The speaker of Tunisia’s dissolved parliament says the country is living under a state of tyranny as President Kais Saied pushes ahead with plans for a controversial referendum on replacing the constitution.
Tunisia has been embroiled in a political crisis since Saied seized wide-ranging powers last year in what opponents decry as a coup.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
Saied on July 25 dismissed the government and suspended parliament, which he later dissolved in moves that sparked fears for the only democracy to have emerged from the Arab Spring uprisings.
He also seized control of the judiciary, and on Thursday summarily sacked 57 judges, accusing them of corruption and other crimes.
Rached Ghannouchi, speaker of the dissolved parliament and the president of the Ennahda party, said the country was experiencing tyranny.
“The end of tyranny is not far away,” Ghannouchi said at a press conference held by his movement and other allied political parties on Sunday.
Ghannouchi stressed that Ennahda, along with its allies, will continue to work to “overthrow the coup as well as the resulting decrees that represented a coup against the constitution”.
He also denounced the targeting of the Tunisian president of the judiciary, stressing that the dissolution of the Supreme Judicial Council was an “absurdity” and noting that such a move did not take place under the rule of the late President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was overthrown in the 2011 uprising.
Protests broke out on Saturday against a referendum slated for July on a replacement for a 2014 constitution that had enshrined a mixed parliamentary-presidential system often plagued by deadlock and nepotism.
The draft of the new constitution, which is to be put to the public in a simple yes/no vote, has not yet been published.
Meanwhile, representatives of a number of international organisations have expressed their full solidarity with the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) and have expressed opposition to what they consider a campaign targeting the group.
Members of Reporters Without Borders, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, the World Organisation Against Torture, and the International Commission of Jurists met with Noureddine Taboubi, the secretary-general of UGTT.
On Friday, Taboubi said that the presidential decree related to the constitutional referendum is “not binding” to the union.
“The union will not be present in the national dialogue as long as there are no reviews capable of making this political discussion about the options and the situation in the country a success,” he said.