Tunisian President Kais Saied on Friday dismissed US concerns over threats to democracy in the North African country, more than a month after he froze parliament, raising allegations of a coup.
“There is no reason to worry about the subject of freedom, justice and democracy” in Tunisia, Mr Saied said in a statement from his office during a visit by a high-level US delegation.
The president said he took the “exceptional measures” in July in line with the constitution to “respond to the expectations of the people against a backdrop of political, economic and social crisis".
Jon Finer, the US deputy national security adviser, and Washington's top diplomat for the Middle East, Joey Hood, met both Mr Saied and civil society leaders in Tunis on Friday.
Mr Finer delivered a message from President Joe Biden “urging a swift return to the path of Tunisia's parliamentary democracy”, a White House statement said.
The White House adviser also “discussed with President Saied the urgent need to appoint a prime minister designate who would form a capable government able to address the immediate economic and health crises facing Tunisia”, it added.
On July 25, Mr Saied froze parliament for 30 days, lifted parliamentary immunity and sacked the prime minister and other top officials.
The largest party in parliament accused him of staging a coup, charges dismissed by Mr Saied.
His intervention came amid mounting economic and public health concerns, triggered by one of the world's worst outbreaks of Covid-19.
Tunisia was the birthplace of the Arab uprisings a decade ago and had often been described as the Arab world's biggest success story in transitioning to democracy.