Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the Tunisian capital today, Saturday, against President Kais Saied.
Political movements, staunchly opposed to each other, organized simultaneous demonstrations in the capital, Tunis.
But one thing that these movements united on is denouncing the policies of President Kais Saied, whom his opponents describe as a “tyrant” who undermines the democratic pillars that Tunisia has built since 2011, they said.
These movements also demanded accountability for those responsible for the economic crisis in Tunisia, which suffers from a shortage of food and fuel.
Said faces accusations from his opponents of carrying out a “coup” and of trying to revert Tunisia to “tyranny” and the regime of the single ruler with absolute power.
After dismissing the prime minister and suspending parliament in July 2021, Kais Saied pushed a year later for a new constitution that would strengthen his autonomy, after a referendum that was boycotted by opposition political parties.
The new constitution replaced another that had been drawn up three years after the advent of the Arab Spring in 2011, which saw Tunisians overthrow the Zine El Abidine Ben Ali regime.
The new constitution gives the president complete control of the executive powers, a supreme command over the army, and the power to appoint the government without parliamentary approval.
Kais Saied argues that all of this was needed in order to break the cycle of political stagnation and economic stagnation.
Said added that his “reform” steps were motivated by the spirit of the 2011 revolution, and that they would secure a better future for Tunisia.
Kais Saied’s supporters applaud his steps, saying that Tunisia needed a strong leader to confront what they describe as a system of divisions and corruption.
On Saturday, in the heart of the capital, Tunis, protesters chanted slogans such as “Down, down,” “the revolution against the dictator Qais,” and “the coup will fall.”
One of Saturday’s rallies was organized by the National Salvation Front, a coalition of opposition parties, including the Islamist Ennahda party, which controlled the Tunisian parliament before it was dissolved by Kais Saied.
Ali Al-Arayedh, the former Tunisian prime minister and a prominent leader of the Ennahda party, said the demonstrations were an expression of “anger at the state of the country under Kais Saied.”
“We tell him to ‘leave’,” Al-Arayed told AFP.
Al-Arayedh continued by saying that if Kais Saied remains in power, “there will be no future for Tunisia,” referring to the spread of despair, poverty and unemployment among Tunisians.
The National Salvation Front announced that it would boycott the voting process next December to elect a new parliament with limited powers.
The Ennahda and Free Destourian parties also organized rallies in the capital, Tunis, on Saturday.
The Tunisian revolution is usually seen as the only successful model among the Arab Spring revolutions that swept the region, but this success has not led to significant economic or political stability so far.