TUNIS, Tunisia

Clashes erupted on Monday between supporters and opponents of Tunisian President Kais Saied, amid tension over his recent decisions to dismiss the government and suspend parliament.

On Sunday, Saied ousted the government of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, froze parliament, and assumed the executive authority with the assistance of a new prime minister.

According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent, the Tunisian army and security forces erected barriers in the streets leading to the parliament headquarters in the capital Tunis to separate supporters and opponents of the Tunisian president.

Clashes erupted between opponents and supporters, amid a state of hit-and-run and stone-throwing in the vicinity of the parliament headquarters. Injuries were reported in the violence.

Army forces repelled attempts of dozens of opponents to climb the gate of the parliament headquarters and enter the building.

Supporters of the Ennahda movement – which holds 53 seats in the 217-member parliament – denounced Saied’s decisions as a “coup” against legitimacy and the revolution.

On the other hand, supporters described Saied’s decisions as “corrective”, especially after politicians failed to address the successive crises in the country.

In his Sunday speech, Saied said he will suspend the immunity of all members of parliament and take control of the general prosecutor’s office. He claimed that he has taken the decisions after consulting Mechichi and Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi.

Tunisia has been gripped by a deep crisis since Jan. 16, when Mechichi announced a cabinet reshuffle but Saied refused to hold a ceremony to swear in the new ministers. Tunisia also faces an unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 strains in most states, causing a rapid spread of the virus.

Tunisia is seen as the only Arab country that succeeded in carrying out a democratic transition among other Arab countries that also witnessed popular revolutions that toppled the ruling regimes, including Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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