Tunisia’s Ennahda party on Tuesday condemned President Kais Saied’s move to suspend parliament and sack the government as an “attempted coup against democracy,” saying Tunisians “will not accept a return to dictatorship.”

Yusra Ghannouchi, the international spokesperson for the party and the daughter of Tunisian Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi, told Anadolu Agency that she is one of those who left the country and lived in the UK for 20 years until the 2010-2011 Tunisian revolution brought “freedom and hope.”

On recent developments, she said: “Tunisia has been witnessing a political crisis with the lack of cooperation between the various institutions, the presidency, the government, and parliament with the refusal of the president to approve ministerial reshuffle and the proven new law by the assembly to establish the Constitutional Court.”

“There has been dissatisfaction with this crisis,” she acknowledged, but added: “There is no justification for exploiting this to completely suspend the democratic process.”

The international spokesperson for Ennahda, which has 53 seats in the 217-member parliament, said Tunisians have rejected this week’s “unconstitutional announcements,” which are an attempt to “suspend the democratic transition.”

“There have been (people), of course, many inside and outside the country who have been yearning for a return to the pre-revolution era of dictatorship and authoritarianism and who have been trying to disrupt parliament, disrupt the democratic process in Tunisia,” Ghannouchi said.

“Regardless, we are sure that the majority of political parties and civil society groups in Tunisia and the Tunisian people will be committed to preserving their democracy and preserving hard-won rights and freedoms,” she added.

Tunisians reject dictatorship

Describing Saied’s announcement as “illegal” and “unconstitutional,” Ghannouchi called it an “attempted coup against Tunisia’s democracy.”

“It is a very grave danger for Tunisia’s democracy, for Tunisia’s stability and security,” she added.

Despite the country’s difficulties, she stressed, a “coup attempt” is no way out.

“This will only exacerbate Tunisia’s political and economic and social crisis,” she said.

“So we continue to call on the president to reverse these announcements and to restore democracy, and there is no other way but to use dialogue and the democratic process out of this crisis,” Ghannouchi said, stressing that Saied must restore democracy.

She emphasized that Tunisians have suffered through decades of dictatorship and one-man dictatorial leadership and that the people of Tunisia rose up against it in 2010-2011.

“And they made great sacrifices over generations before the revolution and after the revolution to establish democratic rule based on the popular will that respects people’s freedoms and human rights,” she said.

“And I am sure… people are not ready to abandon this despite all the challenges and sacrifices that go with a difficult democratic transition from dictatorship to democracy in a difficult and challenging the regional situation,” she added.

She said she believes Tunisians will stand together to preserve democracy, adding that “they will not accept a return to dictatorship.”

Danger to security, stability

Ghannouchi said Tunisia provided “hope and inspiration” in 2011, sparking uprisings in the region, and that the country “has continued to provide inspiration for the developments that have been achieved.”

Despite the challenges, she said, “we have a functioning democratic process, elected institutions, freedom of the press, freedom of expression.”

“And this is being now seriously in danger, and all people around the region and around the world are following closely to see whether Tunisians and the international community allow this last hope for democracy in the region to be extinguished,” she added.

Despite their differences, she hailed the majority of Tunisian parties for rejecting the president’s “unconstitutional move.”

“We continue to call on all political parties and all organizations to opt for dialogue, to opt for solutions that respect the constitution and preserve our hard-won freedoms and rights,” she said.

What’s happening right now is “quite worrying,” she said, adding: “It’s a very serious danger to Tunisia and its security and stability.”

“This is all worrying and must be condemned by the international community and all supporters of democracy around the world and to have a clear call for returning to the political democratic process and to restore democracy and focus on Tunisian’s real problems to focus on dealing with the dangerous pandemic and its socio-economic consequences, and take Tunisia out of this crisis,” she added.

*Writing by Iclal Turan in Ankara

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