TUNIS, Tunisia

Tunisia has experienced a wave of dismissals as 24 government and state officials were sacked as of Wednesday.

The dismissals started when Tunisian President Kais Saied’s decided on Sunday to sack the government and freeze the work of parliament.

Saied announced he would assume executive authority and freeze the work of the parliament for 30 days as well as lift immunity on parliamentarians.

Observers expect the dismissals will include the firing of governors and municipal councils in coming days.

Sacking of premier, two ministers

Following Saied’s move, he issued a presidential decree on Monday to sack Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi who was also holding the Interior Ministry portfolio.

Defense Minister Ibrahim Bartagi and Interim Justice Minister Hasna Ben Slimane were also relieved of their duties on July 25.

The decree noted that the secretaries of the state and secretaries-general will assume responsibility for the noted ministries until a new government is announced.

After his dismissal, Mechichi announced on Facebook he will hand over his post to the new prime minister who will be appointed by Saied.

Bartagi was appointed defense chief in Mechichi’s government in August 2020 under an agreement with Saied. But no comment was issued about his dismissal from Ben Slimane.

Dismissals of top government officials

The Tunisian Presidency announced on Tuesday a series of dismissals against several state officials.

Among those who were dismissed are the Director of the Prime Ministry Council Moez Lidine Allah al-Muqaddam and Secretary-General of the Government Walid Dhahbi.

The decisions also included all eight senior advisors and aides to Mechichi, namely Rashad bin Ramadan, Salim Al-Tisawi, Mufdi Al-Masdi, Abdelsalam al-Abassi, Zakaria Belkhodja, Elias Ghariani, Oussama Kheriji and Lahssan Benomar.

Abdul Razzaq al-Kilani, head of the General Authority for Martyrs and Wounded People of the Revolution and Terrorist Operations was relieved as well.

Saied also sacked Taoufik Ayouni, top prosecutor of the military court.

Another nine officials in the Prime Ministry Council were sacked, including Fethi Bayar, Mohamed Ali Alrawi, Hussam Eddine bin Mahmoud, Basma Daoudi, Ibtihal Alatawi, Monji Khadraoui, Nabil Ben Hadid, Bassam El Kchaou and Rawda bin Saleh.

Saied’s action was rejected by most of Tunisia’s parliamentary blocs, including Ennahda, Heart of Tunisia, the Dignity Coalition and the People’s Movement.

Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi described the moves as nothing but a “full-fledged coup” against the Tunisian Constitution, revolution and freedoms.

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

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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