Tunisia’s president has lost his legitimacy, according to a statement by four Tunisian parties who also called for an end to what they called a coup after Kais Saied took control of legislative and executive powers.
On Wednesday, Saied said he would rule by decree and ignore parts of the constitution as he prepared to change the political system.
A day later, Attayar, Al Jouhmouri, Akef and Ettakatol parties said in a joint statement that Saied’s move enshrined an absolute power monopoly.
Saied has held nearly total power since July 25 when he sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament and assumed executive authority citing a national emergency.
Thursday’s opposition statement increased the pressure on him.
Although the four parties are not the most powerful, they hold influence in the streets, especially Attayar, which was close to Saied before his intervention.
“We consider the president has lost his legitimacy by violating the constitution … and he will be responsible for all the possible repercussions of this dangerous step,” the four parties said in the statement.
Anour Ben Kadour, a senior official in the powerful UGTT labour union, said: “Tunisia is heading towards absolute individual rule.”
UGTT, which has about one million members and is a major force in Tunisian politics, has started a meeting to formulate a position on Saied’s actions and is expected to issue a statement later on Thursday.
While many Tunisians have backed Saied and see his actions as necessary to remove a corrupt and unpopular political elite after years of economic stagnation, his critics from across the spectrum have said he is inexperienced and uncompromising.
The leader of Tunisia’s powerful Ennahdha party, Rached Ghannouchi, said on Wednesday that Saied’s declarations meant cancelling the constitution.
The party – the biggest in parliament – would not accept that, he said.
No alternative to struggle
On Thursday, Ghannouchi told the AFP news agency that there was “no longer any alternative to struggle, naturally a peaceful struggle”.
Ghannouchi called the president’s moves “a step back towards absolute one-man rule” a decade after Tunisia’s 2011 revolution.
“We call on the people to take part in peaceful actions to resist dictatorship and return Tunisia to the path of democracy,” he said.
The 80-year-old camped out for 12 hours in front of parliament in Tunis after Saied’s power grab.
“The situation is worse now than it was before July 25,” he said in the AFP interview.
Before that “there were no arrests over blog posts, no thousands of Tunisians banned from leaving the country”, he added.