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President Kaïs Saïed extends his suspension of parliament as he confronts Islamist opposition

Public backing said to be growing for rule by decree and sacking of prime minister

After dismissing Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending the National Assembly on 25 July, President Kaïs Saïed has seen his popularity grow as he promises 'strong leadership' to resolve the country's serial political crises (AC Vol 62 No 16, Saïed lashes out).

President Saïed has extended his rule by decree and the suspension of parliament, both of which were coming up for review on 25 August. Last week, he said that he had no plans to open dialogue with the main political parties. Neither does he plan to call snap elections.

The country's biggest parties, which described Saïed's moves as a coup, are debating their options, veering between outright opposition and some limited cooperation.

Ennahda, the Islamist grouping and the largest party in parliament, reported attacks on several of its offices last month but says it might be willing to vote for a new prime minister should Saïed propose a nominee.

Senior Ennahda party officials told Africa Confidential that they expect the presidency to suspend the parliament for another month. Saïed's rule by decree could continue for several more months but he faces deepening economic problems.

The political crisis is making their resolution harder. Without a deal with the parliament, Saïed cannot pass and implement the budget for the 2021-22 financial year. So far, he insists that he has no interest in a new support package from the IMF.

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