On Sunday, the Tunisian president fired the country’s prime minister and suspended parliament after violent protests over the country’s political and economic crisis.
Protesters feasted in the streets of Tunisia after the announcement was made late in the evening.
President Cais Said also lifted the immunity of all members of parliament and said he would name a new prime minister in the coming hours to ensure calm in the country. He used a special constitutional measure that allows him to take over executive power and freeze parliament indefinitely until normal institutional work is restored.
“We took these decisions … until social peace returns to Tunisia and until we save the state,” he said in a televised address after an emergency security meeting following nationwide protests.
Thousands of people, despite viral restrictions and scorching heat, came out to demonstrate Sunday in the capital Tunis and other cities. Mostly young crowds shouted “Get out!” and slogans calling for the dissolution of parliament and early elections.
The protests were organized on the 64th anniversary of Tunisia’s independence by a new group called the July 25 Movement.
Security forces deployed strong forces, especially in Tunis, where police blocked all streets leading to the capital’s main artery, Bourguiba Avenue. This avenue was a key site of the Tunisian revolution of a decade ago that toppled the dictatorial regime and led to the Arab Spring uprisings.
Police also stationed themselves around the parliament, preventing demonstrators from accessing it.
Police used tear gas to disperse some demonstrators who threw projectiles at police officers and made several arrests. Clashes also occurred in several other cities, notably Nabeul, Sousse, Kairouan, Sfax and Tozeur.
Protesters also stormed the office of the Islamist movement Ennahdha, the dominant force in parliament. Video footage circulating on the Internet shows smoke billowing from the Ennahdha building. The attackers damaged computers and other equipment inside the building and threw documents outside.
The party condemned the attack, saying that “criminal groups” from within and outside Tunisia were trying to “wreak havoc and destruction for a program designed to damage the Tunisian democratic process.
As for the coronavirus, bans and other restrictions on the spread of the virus have been reintroduced in Tunisia, as the country is facing one of the most serious outbreaks of the virus in Africa.