Tunisians hold massive rallies in support of President Saied
Thousands of Tunisians have rallied in several parts of their country to express support for President Kais Saied and his plans to reform the political system and form a new government following the suspension of parliament.
The main demonstration in central Tunis was called in response to protests against Saied’s actions over the previous two weekends in the same location.
At least 8,000 people gathered in central Tunis on Sunday, waving Tunisian flags and carrying placards critical of the country’s largest and powerful political party, Ennahda.
The demonstrators flew Tunisian flags and their banners read: "The people want a revision of the constitution" and "Saied, official spokesman of the people."
"We ask the president to dissolve parliament and hold accountable those who made the people suffer for a decade," one of the protesters said.
Another demonstrator said "Saied is a clean president who has come to restore real democracy."
Similar rallies were held in cities across the North African country in a show of support for the president.
In July, the president plunged Tunisia into a constitutional crisis by suspending the elected parliament, dismissing the prime minister and assuming executive authority.
Last month, Saied, who was elected in late 2019, brushed aside much of the constitution to say he could pass legislation by decree, casting into doubt Tunisia’s democratic gains since its 2011 revolution that triggered the Arab Spring revolts.
Saied’s intervention followed years of economic stagnation and political paralysis, aggravated by an impoverishing lockdown last year, a slow-starting vaccination campaign and street protests.
The move bitterly irked his opponents, who denounced it as a coup.
Following Saied's seizure of governing powers, thousands of protesters rallied in the capital, calling on him to resign and demanding the constitution be respected.
Last week, Saied appointed Najla Bouden Romdhane, a top education official, as the country’s prime minister and urged her to quickly form a government, but after his assumption of wider powers she is expected to have less influence than her predecessors in the job.
Years of paralysis, corruption, declining state services and growing unemployment had agitated many Tunisians on their political system before the COVID-19 pandemic smashed the economy last year and infection rates surged over the past few months.