More than 5,000 protesters across Tunisia on Sunday rallied in support of President Qais Saeed, whose seizure of power has sparked controversy in the Arab Spring.
“We are all Qais Syed, we are all Tunisians,” he said, chanting slogans on Burguba Avenue, the main Tunisian highway.
On July 25, after months of political stalemate, Saeed. Prime Minister fired, Suspended parliament and gave itself judicial powers, a move it took in September with measures that were effective. Allow the President to rule by order..
His lawyer, Samir bin Omar, said the parliamentary suspension lifted the MPs’ immunity and that a deputy and a journalist had been arrested on Sunday – in the fresh custody of a lawmaker – for criticizing Saeed’s moves.
The public health crisis has pushed the government unemployment rate from 15 to about 18 percent. The economy has grown by only 0.6% in the last decade.
Security forces were deployed on Burgiba Avenue on Sunday, especially in front of the municipal theater where the protest took place.
‘We support it’
Protesters waved red and white Tunisian flags and held banners reading: “People want a review of the constitution” and “People’s official spokesman”.
According to local media, about 1,000 supporters of Saeed rallied in the industrial city of Suffolk, and a similar number took place in the beach town of Sousse, with small demonstrations elsewhere.
“Saeed wants to implement reforms and we support him,” Nora Ben Fadhil, a government employee, told AFP at a rally in Tunisia.
“I’ve come to support change to end the current downturn. We’re fed up with it. It’s been going on for 10 years and that’s it!”
For 28-year-old Alice Oni, who campaigned for Saeed in 2019, “On July 25, a flawed system ended. It is in the morgue now and we are going to bury it today.
He blamed parliament for the country’s deterioration.
Saeed, a former law professor, considers Tunisia’s 2014 constitution unbalanced in favor of parliament. He never hid his animosity from political parties, especially the Islam-influenced Al-Nahda, which had the most seats in the suspended parliament.
Last Sunday, an estimated 2,000 people also rallied on Burguba Avenue to protest Saeed’s “coup movement.”
Some chanted “Get out, get out”, which began in December 2010 and ended in January 2011 with the resignation of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
It mobilized. Arab Spring Demonstrations took place in many countries, but Tunisia is the only democracy that emerged from the movement.
Lawyer Omar told AFP that MP Abdul Latif al-Alawi and Zaitoona TV presenter Amir Ayad had been arrested on charges of “conspiracy against state security”.
In the program, the two criticized the president’s appointment of Najla Boden as Tunisia’s first female prime minister on September 29, with Ayad joking that she would only act as a “servant of the sultan”.
Although Saeed’s July move received significant public acceptance, civil society groups have condemned the “seizure of power” and warned against moving away from democracy.