TUNIS, Tunisia

Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki on Monday denounced the dismissal of government and suspension of parliament by the country’s president as a “coup”.

On Sunday, President Kais Saied dismissed the government, froze parliament and assumed the executive authority with the assistance of a new prime minister.

“Saied breached the constitution he sworn on and gave himself all powers,” Marzouki said in a video message published on Facebook. “Saied considered himself the head of the executive power and the first judge,” he said.

“If the coup succeeds, the [country’s] economic and health conditions will deteriorate more,” Marzouki warned, going on to describe Saied as “the biggest problem for Tunisia”.

In his Sunday’s speech, Saied said he will lift the immunity of all members of parliament and assume the role of the public prosecutor. He said he has taken this decision after consulting Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi.

Tunisia has seen popular protests against both the government and the opposition, with attacks reported on headquarters and buildings of Ghannouchi’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party in several Tunisian provinces.

Since January, the country has been in a political deadlock amid a dispute between Saied and Mechichi over a government reshuffle that was rejected by Saied.

The country also faces an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections amid warnings of a possible collapse of the country’s health system.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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