Tunisia’s Ennahdha party has denied reports that its leader and parliamentary speaker Rached Ghannouchi has been placed under house arrest.
Ennahdha “denies any false news circulating about the travel ban on Parliament Speaker and Party Leader Ghannouchi and places him under house arrest,” the movement said in a statement. It confirmed that Ghannouchi “is currently holding a series of meetings.”
On Sunday, Tunisian President Kais Saied fired Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi’s government, froze parliament and took over the executive branch with the help of a new prime minister. Saied also waived the immunity of all MPs and took control of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Ghannouchi described Saied’s move as nothing more than a “full-fledged coup” against the Tunisian constitution, revolution and freedoms in the country. Saied Monday dismissed allegations that his actions amounted to a coup and said he took a historic responsibility with his decisions, which were constitutional.
“Those who claim that this situation has something to do with a coup should review their team lessons,” Saied said in a video on the presidency’s Facebook account.
He noted that he studied and taught law and said that he knows “what a coup is. A coup is to go beyond legitimacy.”
“I applied the constitution,” he said, adding that conditions were created and that there were procedural conditions among those conditions. He added that he called the Prime Minister and informed him.
“I also called Parliament’s speakers and said I would apply Article 80,” he said, allowing Parliament to be suspended in the event of “imminent danger.”
“There is a law in the land, and this law applies to everyone.”
However, world leaders called for respect for the constitution, the institutions and the rule of law.
Germany expressed serious concern over the recent political crisis in the country and demanded a speedy return to democratic constitutional order. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr told a news conference in Berlin that they were following developments closely.
“The Tunisian people want democracy, and democracy has gained a foothold in the country,” Adebahr said, stressing the importance of democratic achievements in the country since the 2011 Tunisian revolution. Adebahr said Germany expects steps from the country’s political leaders towards democratic and constitutional processes.
“Now it is important to return quickly to constitutional order. We call on all parties to guarantee the maintenance and implementation of the constitution. This also includes civil rights and freedoms from our point of view,” she stressed.
Adebahr also called for a constructive dialogue between the leaders of the country’s constitutional bodies to address Tunisia’s problems and accelerate political and economic reforms.
“We are closely following the latest developments in Tunisia. We urge all Tunisian actors to respect the Constitution, its institutions and the rule of law,” Nabila Massrali, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, told Anadolu Agency (AA).
“We also urge them to remain calm and avoid resorting to violence to preserve the country’s stability,” she added.
The United States has said Tunisia must maintain its democratic influence. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States had “closely monitored” the situation and that the Biden administration had been in contact with Tunisian authorities to “emphasize that solutions to Tunisia’s political and economic problems should be based on the Tunisian constitution and principles of democracy, human rights and freedom. “
“We have clearly called on all parties to refrain from taking any action that could stifle democratic discourse or lead to violence. We are particularly concerned about reports that media offices have been closed and urge strict respect for freedom of expression and other civil rights,” the diplomat in a statement.
“Tunisia must not waste its democratic gains. The United States will continue to stand on the side of Tunisia’s democracy,” he added.
Since January, the country has been in a political stalemate in the middle of a dispute between Saied and Mechichi over a government reshuffle that the former rejected. The country is also facing an economic crisis and a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections amid warnings of a possible collapse in health care.