Thousands protest Tunisian president’s power grabs

Protesters in their thousands gathered in Tunis on Sunday to reject President Kais Saied’s power grabs. They also called on him to step down. President Saied had seized powers in July.

According to Arab News, Saied this week brushed aside much of the 2014 constitution, giving himself power to rule by decree.

Two months ago, he had sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament and assumed executive authority.

“The people want the fall of the coup,” they chanted in the center of Tunis under heavy police presence.

The crisis has endangered the democratic gains that Tunisians won in a 2011 revolution, which triggered the “Arab spring” protests.

Saied defended his actions while promising to uphold rights and not become a dictator.

“We will protect democracy… the constitution is a red line,” said protester Nadia Ben Salem.

Saied still has wide support among Tunisians, who are tired of corruption and poor public services and say his hands are clean.

He has not put any time limit on his seizure of power, but said he would appoint a committee to help draft amendments to the 2014 constitution and establish “a true democracy in which the people are truly sovereign.”

Meanwhile, Tunisia’s largest political party, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, has called Saied’s moves “a flagrant coup against democratic legitimacy” and called for people to unite and defend democracy in “a tireless, peaceful struggle.”

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