Tunisia in political turmoil as president sacks more officials

TUNIS – Tunisia lurched further into political uncertainty Wednesday as President Kais Saied dismissed more officials, days after he suspended parliament and assumed executive powers in what opponents labeled a coup.

Key civil society groups warned against any “illegitimate” extension of Saied’s 30-day suspension of parliament, and demanded in a joint statement a timeline for political action.

After suspending parliament and sacking Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi on Sunday, and firing the defence and justice ministers on Monday, Saied then ordered the dismissal of several top officials. Late Tuesday, 63-year-old Saied, a former law lecturer who was a political newcomer when he won a landslide 2019 presidential election victory, issued decrees sacking a long list of senior government officials, including the army’s chief prosecutor.

On Wednesday, he also dismissed the CEO of national television channel Wataniya.  In addition, he has lifted the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers and assumed judicial powers.

Saied says his actions are justified under the constitution, which allows the head of state to take unspecified exceptional measures in the event of an “imminent threat”. 

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