Tunisia's President Kais Saied accused of 'failed dictatorship' during protests

Hundreds protested on Sunday over 'power grab' by Mr Saied

Demonstrators gather during a protest against Tunisian President Kais Saied, in the capital Tunis on Sunday. AP
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Hundreds of Tunisians protested on Sunday in the capital, against what they said was a power grab by President Kais Saied.

The Tunisian leader has been accused of imposing one-man rule in the North African country, after he dissolved parliament last month.

Protesters shouted "get out" at the rally organised by the Ennahda party, which dominated the now-dissolved parliament, and the "Citizens Against the Coup" movement.

Last month, more than half of the members of parliament held an online session to revoke Mr Saied's decrees as a political crisis worsened.

"We are facing a failed dictatorship that is leading the country to an economic disaster. We will continue to protest in the streets until a coup is forced to reverse its decisions," said activist Chaima Issa, Reuters reported.

Members of parliament participated in the protest on Sunday, which took place amid a heavy presence of anti-riot police.

Protesters chanted: "The people want to overthrow the coup."

Samira Chaouchi, one of two Deputy Speakers of Parliament, said: "We will continue to resist the coup and we will not retreat. We will not accept this dictatorship."

After last month's online session, which Mr Saied dissolved, anti-terrorism police summoned the main opposition figure Rached Ghannouchi and other lawmakers for questioning, prompting criticism from abroad as well as at home.

Mr Ghannouchi, who is Speaker of Parliament and head of the Ennahda party, said more online sessions would be convened.

A delegation from the European Parliament will visit Tunisia on Monday to urge a return to the democratic transition that began after the 2011 revolution, which ended the autocratic rule of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

'Traitors and thieves'

Mr Saied took control of executive power in the middle of last year and has ruled by decree, moves that his opponents describe as a coup.

He has rejected the accusations and said he would hold talks on political reforms, but that "traitors and thieves" would not participate.

He has previously said he would form a committee to rewrite the constitution, put it to a referendum in July and then hold parliamentary elections in December.

The country's two main parties Ennahda and Free Constitutional, which are bitterly opposed, have both said they will oppose those plans.

Updated: June 14, 2023, 6:45 AM