Tunisia: Ghannouchi says parliament in session, rejects ‘coup’

TUNIS, Tunisia (AA): Tunisia’s Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi said Monday the assembly is in session, reiterating rejection of President Kais Saied’s decision to suspend parliament.

On Sunday, Tunisian President Kais Saied ousted the government of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, froze parliament and assumed the executive authority with the assistance of a new prime minister.

“The Tunisian parliament is in session and we adhere to legitimacy and reject the coup,” Ghannouchi, the leader of the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, told TRT.

“Since the moment we heard of the coup, we have taken to the streets and we are trying to observe the Turkish lesson,” Ghannouchi added, in reference to the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.

“The Tunisian military establishment separates between what is political and military and it has no interest in getting involved in political issues,” he said.

[Photo: Tunisian President Kais Saied announces suspending parliament at the Carthage Palace in Tunis, Tunisia on July 25, 2021. Photo by Tunisian Presidency / Handout/ Anadolu Agency]

The parliament speaker accused the Emirati media of being behind the coup and targeting the Ennahda movement.

However, Tunisian President Saied on Monday dismissed claims that his actions amounted to a coup and said he assumed an historical responsibility with his decisions, which were constitutional.

“Those who claim that this situation has something to do with a coup should review their law lessons,” Saied said in a video on the presidency’s Facebook account.

In his Sunday’s speech, Saied said he will suspend the immunity of all members of parliament and take control of the general prosecutor’s office.

He claimed that he has taken the decisions after consulting Mechichi and Ghannouchi.

Ghannouchi, for his part, described Saied’s moves as nothing but a “full-fledged coup” against the Tunisian constitution, revolution, and freedoms in the country.

Tunisia has been gripped by a deep crisis since Jan. 16, when Mechichi announced a cabinet reshuffle but Saied refused to hold a ceremony to swear in the new ministers. Tunisia also faces an unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 strains in most states, causing a rapid spread of the virus.

Tunisia is seen as the only Arab country that succeeded in carrying out a democratic transition among other Arab countries that also witnessed popular revolutions that toppled the ruling regimes, including Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.

*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

[Photo: Parliament Speaker Rashid al-Ghannushi speaking to media after Tunisian President Kais Saied announced suspending parliament  on July 25, 2021. Photographer: Nacer Talel/AA]

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