Tensions rise in Tunisia after president sacks PM, freezes parliament

Tunis, Jul 26 (EFE).- Tensions mounted in Tunisia on Monday, after President Kais Saied’s decision to relieve the prime minister of his position and freeze the parliament.

Saied had announced earlier Sunday he would take over executive power during the transition period with the help of a new prime minister that he would appoint to replace Hichem Mechichi.

On Monday, he also sacked defense minister Brahim Bartagi and acting justice minister Hasna Ben Slimane and ordered administrative and finance officials at each ministry to carry out outstanding tasks until a new cabinet is appointed, the presidency said in a statement.

Parliamentary speaker Rached Ghannouchi met virtually with deputies for the first time after Saied’s decision, which they decried as a “serious violation of the constitution.”

Tunisia’s army stopped Ghannouchi and several lawmakers from entering the parliament building early in the morning.

Security forces stormed the office of news broadcaster Al Jazeera in the capital Tunis, expelled its employees and ordered it to shut down, according to the Qatar-based channel.

Supporters of the president and followers of Ennahda gathered outside the parliament building and threw stones at each other, leaving several injured.

In a statement, Ennahda called on citizens to protest against Saied’s move, which the country’s largest political party described as a “coup against the revolution.”

“This is a blow against Tunisian democracy and its constitution. Tunisia is the only success story of the Arab Spring and this story does not end there,” the statement said.

Thousands of Tunisians took to streets to celebrate Saied’s announcement, which also included lifting immunity from all members of parliament.

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