Hundreds of Tunisians gathered in Tunis on Saturday in protest against Tunisian President Kais Saied’s appropriation of governing powers in July, which triggered a constitutional crisis and prompted accusations of a coup from members of the opposition.
The demonstrators assembled at the capital chanting “shut down the coup!” and “we want a return to legitimacy!”, while a few dozen Saied supporters held a counter-demonstration chanting “we support the dissolution of the parliament”.
The protest was the first since Saied declared the sack of the prime minister, suspending parliament and assuming executive authority on July 25.
Saturday’s protests accompanied by a heavy security presence may be an indication of how the security services, many of whose leaders are newly appointed by Saied, will handle public disapproval of him.
Protesters standing around the belle epoque theatre on Habib Bourguiba Avenue were said to have been treated equally, standing between the two camps.
Saied’s moves were largely popular in a country smattering from years of economic stagnation and political paralysis, but they have raised fears for the new rights and the democratic system won in the 2011 revolution that sparked the “Arab spring“.
Though the biggest party in parliament, the Ennahda party, initially decried his move as a coup, it quickly backed down and calm soon followed.
Eight weeks on, Saied is yet to appoint a prime minister or declare his longer-term intentions.
With the suspension of the constitution and lifting of their immunity, some parliamentarians have been arrested, while numerous Tunisians have been disallowed from leaving the country.
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