TUNIS, Tunisia

Tunisian President Kais Saied has accused lobby groups of working clandestinely to create crises in the North African country for staying in power.

“I know who stirs up the street and provokes crises to stay in power,” Saied said during a meeting on Friday with Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and acting Justice Minister Hasna Ben Suleiman at the presidential palace in Carthage.

He did not elaborate more on those lobby groups.

The situation “indicates greater risks as a result of the rule of a number of lobbies, which work behind the scene and change their positions based on their interests,” Saied added in a video clip of the meeting published by the Presidency.

He warned that “what is happening these days in the country portends a grave danger to the Tunisian state”, but assured Tunisians that he will not let that happen.

Tunisia has been gripped by a deep crisis since Jan. 16 when Mechichi announced a Cabinet reshuffle, but Saied refused to swear in the new ministers.

The country, amid a major economic downturn exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, has also seen protests in several regions.

Meanwhile, night protests have continued for a fourth night in a row in the district of Sidi Hussein west of the capital Tunis after the death of a young man following his arrest by security forces on June 8.

Protesters clashed intermittently with security forces who have in return fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.

On Friday, the Ministry of Interior said it arrested police officers seen in a video that went viral on social media arresting another young man during the protests while stripping his clothes. The incident, eyewitnesses said, led to escalating the protests.

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara

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