News ID: 316832
Published: 0234 GMT October 03, 2021

Tunisians rally for president, urging change to political system

Tunisians rally for president, urging change to political system

Supporters of Tunisian President Kais Saied rally in support of his seizure of power and suspension of parliament, in Tunis, Tunisia, on October 3, 2021.

Thousands of supporters of Tunisian President Kais Saied rallied in the capital on Sunday to back his suspension of parliament and promises to change the political system, acts his critics call a coup.

The demonstration in central Tunis was by far the biggest since Saied seized executive power in July, a show of support by his supporters that dwarfed two protests over the previous two weekends in the same location against his actions, according to Reuters.

Saied has frequently cited public backing for his moves against the political elite and a system of power-sharing between president and parliament that he says has thwarted the popular will.

Demonstrators waved Tunisian flags and carried placards railing against Ennahda party that is the biggest in parliament and has acted as Saied's main antagonist.

"We ask the president to dissolve parliament and hold accountable those who made the people suffer for a decade," Salem Ajoudi, one of the demonstrators, said.

The president plunged Tunisia into a constitutional crisis in July by suspending the elected parliament, dismissing the prime minister and assuming executive authority.

Last month he brushed aside much of the Constitution to say he could pass legislation by decree, casting into doubt Tunisia's democratic gains since its 2011 revolution that triggered the "Arab Spring" revolts across the Arab world.

Saied's intervention followed years of economic stagnation and political paralysis, aggravated by an impoverishing lockdown last year, a slow-starting vaccination campaign and street protests.

Many Tunisians blame those ills on a corrupt, self-interested political elite, and they see Saied, an independent elected in 2019, as a champion for ordinary people.

Among his supporters, Saied's intervention is widely regarded as a long-overdue reset of a democratic experiment that established interests pulled off course.

While opinion polls show Saied's moves have widespread support, his long delay in declaring a timeline out of the crisis has started to cement opposition to him.

Most of the political elite and the powerful labour union UGTT say he must start consulting more widely if he plans to amend the Constitution, as he has indicated he will.






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