President of African country fires prime minister, uses military to stop parliament from meeting

Ailan Evans, DCNF

Tunisian president Kais Saied announced Sunday he was invoking emergency constitutional powers to assume total executive control of the nation following a wave of protests.

Saied, a political independent, removed the prime minister, defense minister, and justice minister from their posts and suspended the country’s parliament, he announced in a televised address Sunday. The announcement came amid a series of protests against the Islamist group Ennahda, Tunisia’s largest political party, the Guardian reported.

The Tunisian army was deployed around the parliament building to prevent members of parliament from entering it, according to the Guardian. Saied’s actions were met with celebrations from crowds in the nation’s capital, Tunis.

“This is the happiest moment since the revolution,” Lamia Meftahi, one of those celebrating, told the Guardian.

Protesters had been unhappy with Ennahda’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, according to the Associated Press.

“This isn’t just about Ennahda, it’s about the political system and all the parties,” activist Henda Chennaoui told the Guardian. “He [Saied] knows people are tired. He got the support he expected.”

Tunisia has been a democracy since 2011, when the regime of dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was toppled during Arab Spring and the country held its first free elections. Though Saied argued his actions were according to the nation’s constitution, his political opponents in Ennahda disagreed.

Ennahda leader and parliamentary speaker Rached Ghannouchi called Saied’s actions a “coup” and an “assault on democracy,” according to the Guardian. Ghannouchi and several other Ennahda lawmakers resolved to continue performing their governmental duties despite the suspension of parliament, the Guardian reported.

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