Jump to navigation

Tunisia

Opposition mounts towards Saïed as protestors march on national assembly

Demonstrations in the capital follow clashes in the south as economic conditions worsen

There are growing signs that President Kaïs Saïed is beginning to lose popular support for his suspension of parliament amid frustration over a deepening crisis in public finances. On Sunday (14 November) thousands of protestors marched on the parliament, pulling down police barriers blocking access to the Bardo palace area of Tunis.

Parliament has been suspended since July when Saïed sacked the government and started to rule by decree. Last week demonstrators set fire to a police station after clashing with security forces in Agareb near Sfax, in southern Tunisia.

President Saïed still has widespread backing for his strategy after he appointed little known technocrat Najla Boden as prime minister. Frustrated after months of paralysis in parliament, many Tunisians had joined pro-government demonstrations. But that support may be ebbing as economic pressures grow.

The continuing suspension of parliament means Saïed's government is unable to pass a new state budget and to start reforming the economy (AC Vol 62 No 16, Saïed lashes out).

When Saïed suspended parliament in July, that also froze talks with international lenders. Tunisia's central bank has now confirmed that talks have restarted with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a rescue package.

The reforms and liberalising measures which the Fund had earlier requested from Tunis are still on the table. Tumbling living standards and the economic fallout from the pandemic leaves Saïed little room for manoeuvre.

Perhaps to deflect attention from the coming economic pain, Saïed has moved against former President Moncef Marzouki, issuing an international arrest warrant for him for undermining national security.

The interim president for three years after the Arab Spring, Marzouki, who has been in France for several months, has been a vocal critic of Saïed. After Marzouki's campaigning, the summit of the International Francophone Organisation due to be held this month on Djerba, off the Tunisian coast, has been postponed.

The official reason for the delay is 'allowing Tunisia to be able to organise this important meeting in the best conditions.'

That embarrassment, as well as Marzouki's ubiquitous appearances on French television channels and social networks describing Saied as a 'dictator' and demanding his removal, appears to have prompted the arrest call (AC Vol 62 No 22, Saïed channels Mussolini).



Related Articles

Saïed lashes out

Public delight greeted the president's sudden suspension of parliament and dismissal of the premier, but taking the reins himself may spell trouble

President Kaïs Saïed's decision to sack his prime minister, Hichem Mechichi, after the massive anti-government protests on Republic Day (25 July) took few by surprise. Th...


Saïed channels Mussolini

The president has carried out an absolutist 'constitutional coup' and so far has the public on his side

The Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Ennahda dominated the decade after the fall of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, but in successive governments it failed to revive the faltering ...


The jasmine and khaki revolution

Protests after a desperate unemployed graduate’s suicide ousted the Ben Ali regime and may change regional politics

The arrest of 33 members of the former ruling family less than a week after the overthrow of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali on 13 January consolidates the change of regime. It s...


Upstarts and old guards

Jealous of presidential candidate Nabil Karoui's popularity, the political class manoeuvred to have him arrested

Tunisians go to the polls on 15 September to choose a new president and, three weeks later, a new parliament. The contests lacked strong drama until 23 August, when front-runner Na...


Coalition time

Tunisia elects a new, 217-member Parliament on 26 October and all eyes are on the possible coalitions that will follow. A formal coalition between the front-runners, the Islamist H...