TUNIS, Tunisia

Tunisian President Kais Saied called on his countrymen not to heed calls for chaos, amid tension over his recent move to sack the prime minister and assume all executive powers.

Do not “fall behind those who advocate for chaos”, Saied was quoted as saying without giving names by the Tunisian Presidency during a meeting with representatives of the Supreme Judicial Council on Monday evening.

He expressed “his keenness to respect the constitution and its requirements, to impose the law on everyone, and to guarantee the independence of the judiciary at this delicate stage in Tunisia’s history.”

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

In a subsequent statement, Parliament strongly condemned and rejected Saied decisions.

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

Ghannouchi, who is also the leader of the Ennahda party, urged Tunisians to defend the revolution.

On Monday, soldiers deployed at parliament did not allow Ghannouchi and accompanying lawmakers to enter 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 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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