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Tunisian president says he will rule by decree

September 22, 2021

President Kais Saied has tightened his grip on power with the announcement that he will rule by decree. Political opponents have labelled the move a "coup."

Tunisian President Kais Saied speaks to members of the army and police
Tunisia's President Kais Saied said he is acting in line with the constitution and upholding the rights of Tunisians Image: Slim Abid/AP/picture alliance

Tunisia's President Kais Saied has declared that he will be ruling the country by decree. The office of the presidency announced the measures in a series of tweets.

"President Kais Saied issues a presidential decree extending the freezing of parliamentary powers," the statement read. Parliamentarians will also still be stripped of immunity from prosecution. 

What does this mean?

The decree places Saied firmly in the seat of power, and enables him to appoint cabinet members and set policy while setting aside parts of the constitution.

"The President shall exercise executive power with the help of a Council of Ministers chaired by a Head of Government," the article stipulates.

In terms of the constitution the statement reads: "The provisional Commission to review the constitutionality of draft laws is abolished, and the President will prepare draft amendments on political reforms with the assistance of a committee to be set up by presidential decree."

The move comes two months after Saied suspended the country's parliament. On July 25 the president sacked Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi along with government and gave himself emergency powers.

Saied insists his actions are in the interests of national security and the measures are in line with the constitution and aimed at upholding the rights of Tunisians.

Political opponents label the move a 'coup'

The power play has been rejected by the country's largest opposition party. The leader of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it cannot accept it, having already called the July 25 measures a coup.

The party says Saied risks beginning the process of 'dismantling' the state.

Osama al-Khalifi, an official in another opposition party called Heart of Tunisia accused Saied of instigating a "premeditated coup," and said: "We call for a national alignment against the coup."

kb/aw (AFP, Reuters)