TUNIS, Tunisia

The Heart of Tunisia party on Monday denounced the dismissal of the Tunisian government and suspension of parliament by President Kais Saied as a “grave breach” of the constitution.

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

“The decisions taken by President Saied are a grave breach of the constitution,” the party’s parliamentary bloc said in a statement.

The party, which has 29 seats in the 217-member parliament, warned that Saied’s moves risk dragging Tunisia to the era of “one-man rule.”

The party reiterated its commitment to the rule of law and institutions, adding that it “respects electoral legitimacy and rejects any decision that contradicts its institutional outcomes.” It went on to call on all parties to address the “legitimate demands” of Tunisians and avoid “false political battles.”

The party called on the parliament to convene immediately and the prime minister “to assume his legitimate duties and to avoid creating a vacuum”, while urging the country’s security apparatus to “protect the state and its institutions, the values and principles of the republic, and ensure the security of the people.”

On Sunday, Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi described Saied’s moves as nothing but a “full-fledged coup” against the Tunisian constitution, revolution, and freedoms in the country.

Soldiers deployed at parliament prevented Ghannouchi and accompanying lawmakers from entering the building.

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 Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara

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