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Opposition to Saied continues, but without much success

Dec 13, 2021

By Staff Writer

Protests in Tunisia are being vigorously organised for 17 December, which saw the start of the initial uprising, culminating at the end of the Ben Ali dictatorship in 2011. 10-years-later, these are in opposition to President Qais Said’s July coup, which has seen the president suspend parts of the constitution, announce his willingness and authority to rule by decree, and arrest opposition politicians and journalists. Further, recent days have even seen him hint at a full suspension and reformulation of the widely heralded 2014 constitution and the suspension of the Supreme Judicial Council, a clear infringement of the supposed separation of powers.

Ghazi Chaouachi, head of the Democratic Current, which initially supported the July coup, recently asserted that Saied was ‘incapable’ of leading the country, with a new initiative to be announced on 17 December. This is likely to comprise political parties, the influential Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), and influential figures and civil society organisations. Already in September, the Democratic current cautioned against the “coup”, arguing that this was intensifying a possible move toward violence, with the largest party, Ennahda, advocating a peaceful struggle. Protests have since occurred, with little success; Said had been forced to appoint a Prime Minister, yet this was not in coordination with the ruling party and parliament, as stipulated by the country’s constitution. The UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have vehemently supported the coup, enabling Saied to reject domestic and international pressure; the three countries see Saied’s power grab as a means of weakening political Islam. This has primarily worked, with Ennahda now in chaos, with over a hundred of its leaders resigning in September.

Saied remains popular amongst some sectors, with many youths believing that the country’s political structure needs to be overhauled to implement policies to revive the country’s economy. Further, many have been frustrated by the constant changes of government, which are a direct result of its political structure and the ‘secularist’ aspirations of its powerful general trade union (UGTT), which has opposed Saied’s latest moves. A 2014 constitution allows for a parliamentary system with severely limited powers for the president, which Saied continues to shun.



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