Tue. Oct 19th, 2021

President Saied denies allegations that he carried out a coup, as two MPs were arrested on Friday.

The president of Tunisia has said he will not become a dictator as two MPs were arrested on Friday after his decision to waive their immunity when he took control this week.

Tunisia ended up in a political crisis following President Kais Saied’s decision on Sunday to dismiss the prime minister and suspend parliament for 30 days, with the main parties accusing him of a coup.

Saied has yet to take steps needed by critics to reassure Tunisians, including the appointment of an interim prime minister and a roadmap to end the emergency measures.

“I know the constitutional texts very well, respect them and learn them, and after all this time I will not become a dictator as some have said,” the former law professor was quoted as saying.

Saied Saied removed the immunity of the MPs so that anyone arresting them could be left behind.

Concerns over rights and freedoms in Tunisia, a democracy since the 2011 revolution, rose on Friday following the arrest of parliamentary and influential blogger Yassin Ayari and the announcement of investigations into alleged violence by people protesting Saied’s actions on Monday.

The military tribunal said Ayari was jailed by a court ruling issued three years ago for defaming the military.

Ayari has spoken out against the military and the government and has faced legal issues in the past.

Another MP, Maher Zid of the conservative Muslim Karama party, was detained late Friday, according to his lawyer.

He was sentenced in 2018 to two years in prison for insulting people on social media and insulting the then president.

On Monday, the largest party in parliament, the moderate Islamist Ennahdha, held a seat outside parliament after being surrounded by the army.

Hundreds of supporters of Ennahdha and Saied confronted each other, some throwing stones and bottles.

The judiciary said it had investigated four people linked to Ennahdha for ‘attempted violence’ during the protest, including a member of a party council and two members linked to his leader.

Ennahdha has been a key player in the Tunisian legislative elections since the 2011 revolution, which sparked the uprisings of the Arab Spring across the region.

Saied’s decision to seize executive control appears to be gaining widespread support in Tunisia, where years of mismanagement, corruption, political paralysis and economic stagnation have been exacerbated this year by a deadly increase in COVID-19 cases.

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