Tunisian president dissolves parliament and extends power grab | political news

Kais Saied says the move, eight months after the parliament’s suspension, is aimed at “preserving the state and its institutions.”

Tunisian President Kais Saied has announced on state television that he is dissolving the country’s parliament, eight months after its suspension in a power grab in July.

“Today, at this historic moment, I announce the dissolution of the Assembly of Representatives, in order to preserve the state and its institutions,” he said on Wednesday.

He made the announcement during a meeting of the National Security Council, hours after parliamentarians held a plenary session online and voted a bill against his “exceptional measures”.

After the online session, Tunisia’s Justice Minister Leila Jeffal asked the Attorney General to open a judicial inquiry against members of a suspended parliament on charges of “conspiracy against state security,” according to local media.

Saied denounced the parliament’s move as an “attempted coup” and said those responsible had “betrayed” the nation.

Tunisian lawmakers voted Wednesday to repeal presidential decrees suspending their chambers and giving Kais Saied near-total power.

The former law professor, elected in 2019 amid public anger against the political class, sacked the government on July 25 last year, freezing the assembly and seizing sweeping powers.

He later gave himself the power to rule and legislate by decree and took control of the judiciary in what rivals saw as further blows for democracy in the birthplace of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

Saied’s steps were initially welcomed by many Tunisians who were sick of the often stalled political system that emerged from the revolution that toppled longtime leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

But an increasing number of critics have said he has set the country, which is also faced with a harrowing economic crisis, on a perilous path back to autocracy.

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