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Hundreds rally for Tunisian president urging change to political system | U.S. & World

By Tarek Amara

TUNIS (Reuters) -Hundreds of supporters of Tunisian President Kais Saied rallied within the capital and different cities on Sunday to again his suspension of parliament and guarantees to alter the political system, acts his critics name a coup.

The demonstration of at the very least 8,000 folks in central Tunis was by far the largest since Saied seized govt energy in July – a present of help by his supporters that dwarfed two protests over the earlier two weekends towards his actions.

Hundreds of different Saied supporters rallied in Sfax, witnesses and native media mentioned, whereas others rallied in Sidi Bouzid, Gafsa and Monastir.

Opposition to his strikes has additionally grown in current weeks as a lot of the political institution, the highly effective labour union and international donors have come out towards his suspension of elements of the structure.

Saied has often cited public backing for his strikes towards the political elite and a system of power-sharing between president and parliament that he says has thwarted the favored will.

Demonstrators waved Tunisian flags and carried placards railing towards Ennahda, the average Islamist occasion that’s the greatest in parliament and has acted as Saied’s foremost antagonist.

One chant referred to as Ennahda chief and parliament speaker Rached Ghannouchi, who has urged the suspended chamber to restart its work, an “murderer”.

“We demand that Saied dissolve Ennahda and the political events concerned in corruption,” Noura Bensalah, one of many demonstrators, mentioned.

The president plunged Tunisia right into a constitutional disaster in July by suspending the elected parliament, dismissing the prime minister and assuming govt authority.

Final month he brushed apart a lot of the structure to say he may cross laws by decree, casting into doubt Tunisia’s democratic beneficial properties since its 2011 revolution that triggered the “Arab spring” revolts throughout the Muslim world.

‘REAL DEMOCRACY’

Saied’s intervention adopted years of financial stagnation and political paralysis, aggravated by an impoverishing lockdown final 12 months, a slow-starting vaccination marketing campaign and avenue protests.

Many Tunisians blame these ills on a corrupt, self-interested political elite, they usually see Saied, an unbiased elected in 2019, as a champion for extraordinary folks.

Amongst his supporters, Saied’s intervention is broadly thought to be a long-overdue reset of a democratic experiment that established pursuits pulled off target.

“Saied is a clear president who has come to revive actual democracy,” mentioned Mongi Abdullah, a trainer from Mahdia who had come to hitch the rally.

Whereas opinion polls present Saied’s strikes have widespread help, his lengthy delay in declaring a timeline out of the disaster has began to cement opposition to him.

Many of the political elite and the highly effective labour union UGTT say he should begin consulting extra broadly if he plans to amend the structure, as he has indicated he’ll.

Although Sunday’s rally was organized by activists on social media, three smaller events in parliament together with Achaab supported it, saying paralysis within the political system had compelled Saied to intervene.

“Saied ought to appoint a authorities and begin dialogue to reform the system and the electoral regulation, then go to a referendum,” mentioned Mohamed Ammar, an unbiased parliament member attending the demonstration.

Final week Saied appointed a main minister and urged her to rapidly type a authorities, however after his assumption of wider powers she is predicted to have much less affect than her predecessors within the job.

Tunisian police on Sunday arrested a member of parliament and a tv presenter who’ve been distinguished critics of Saied since his strikes in July, their lawyer mentioned. The police weren’t instantly obtainable for remark.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Angus McDowall; Enhancing by Andrew Heavens)