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Tunisian Parties Accuse President of Plotting ‘Soft Coup’

Tunisian Parties Accuse President of Plotting ‘Soft Coup’

Tuesday, 20 April, 2021 - 08:00
President Kais Saied. (Reuters)

Several Tunisian political parties accused President Kais Saied of plotting a “soft coup” against the state's institutions and constitution “in preparation for a political plan that has not yet been announced.”


A number of politicians believe the preparations for such a plan have been underway for some time, citing the president’s refusal to approve a cabinet reshuffle and the law establishing the Constitutional Court.


Two days ago, Saied stated his powers as commander of the armed forces also cover the internal security forces, not only the army.


Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, who is also the acting minister of interior, responded to the remarks by saying: “There is no need for individual, odd readings [of the constitution] which, moreover, are taken out of context.”


The prime minister also considered that Saied’s statements “do remind (us) of the urgent need for the creation of a Constitutional Court, which is the only body entitled to decide on such matters.”


In response to Saied’s statement, top Ennahda movement member Rafik Abdel Salam warned that the president wants to bring the civil, military, secular and religious authorities under his control, based on a "corrupt and misleading" interpretation of the constitution.


He said it appears that the president "has forgotten that Tunisia is a state of institutions, and not a guarded estate in his ownership."


Meanwhile, head of Amal party Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, said the president is leading a “soft coup”, noting its “first episodes were to disrupt the formation of the government”, oppose the formation of the Constitutional Court and assume the leadership of the internal security forces alongside the military forces.


Chebbi indicated that this coup does not necessarily need to include military action, saying it is an "illegal authoritarian act that undermines the rules of organization of the existing bodies.".


He also criticized the “individual interpretation” of the provisions of the constitution, and the appeal of the 2015 law on the appointments to top positions.


In order to overcome this conflict, Chebbi suggested a referendum on all these legal loopholes, saying it “represents a preparatory step for early general elections, preceded by amending the electoral law.”


On the other hand, Nawfal Saeed, the president's brother, defended Saied’s statements, saying he has repeatedly declared his commitment to the constitution, which he is sworn to respect.


He added that many sides seem to fear the president's implementation of the constitution.


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