Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party on Monday said that it considers the parliament to be in continuous session, denouncing as “invalid” President Kais Saied’s decisions to suspend the assembly and sack the government.

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

“Our institutions are not something we build one day and take down the next. This is an institution that’s elected by and represents the people; we consider Parliament to be in permanent session, the government and all state institutions to be in place and the decisions taken as invalid,” the party said on Twitter.

“We are not fearful. We are with our people, and we stand for justice, freedom, for the rule of law and institutions. We will not give in to going back to past eras,” it said.

The party said there are “economic difficulties which pushed some of our youth to protest as guaranteed by the Constitution.”

“But exploiting this to suppress democracy and obstruct the Constitution and national institutions particularly Parliament is the trademark of dictatorships,” it added.

In his Sunday speech, Saied said he will suspend the immunity of all members of parliament and take control of the general prosecutor’s office. He claimed that he has taken the decisions after consulting Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi.

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.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara.

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