Tunisia’s president said on Wednesday he was addressing the country’s dire economic and Covid-19 situation, and probing widespread corruption after invoking emergency powers on Sunday to seize control of government in a move his foes called a coup.
President Kais Saied justified the moves, which included dismissing the prime minister and suspending parliament, by citing a surging pandemic and misgovernance, saying he had acted to save the country from corruption and plots to sow civil strife.
Public anger had been growing in Tunisia over the political paralysis that had stopped any coherent response to the pandemic and after years of economic hardship and declining public services.
France said on Wednesday it was paramount that Saied quickly name a new prime minister and cabinet, while civil society groups including the powerful labor union have said he must produce a roadmap to exit the crisis within a month. A decade after ending autocratic rule through a popular uprising, Tunisia faces the sternest test yet to its democratic system, and Western countries that have applauded its political transition have expressed concern.