Sunday. 19.05.2024

Thousands of Tunisians took to the streets on Sunday in the capital, Tunis, to protest against President Kais Saied, who recently tightened his grip on power and expanded his authority.

Several thousand people gathered on central Tunis' Avenue Habib Bourguiba amid tight security. Some of them were chanting "down with the coup" while others chanted "Saied must go."

Police sealed off the protest on all sides, and some demonstrators were not allowed to join in the afternoon. Dozens had to leave.

"We want to return to democracy," said one young man who was turned away by the police.

The protest aims to pressure Saied to reverse his measures, which began in July when he suspended parliament and sacked the prime minister, before further expanding his legislative and executive powers and suspending some parts of the constitution this month.

"We are now in an unconstitutional, individual monarchy led by Kais Saied," said al-Sahbi Atiq, a lawmaker with Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda movement, which is the largest party in parliament.

"We are opposing the coup as much as we can, and we support any national dialogue to restore the constitution and legitimacy, and then we [will] support any reforms within constitutional legitimate framework," said Atiq.


Saied's measures have divided the North African country.

The president's supporters also demonstrated in the centre of Tunis. According to media reports, there were a few hundred participants, and the rival demonstrations were separated by security barriers.

Despite the tight security, clashes erupted between opponents and supporters of the president on the fringes of the protests.

Saied, who has repeatedly defended his moves, is yet to appoint a new prime minister.

The ex-law professor took office in 2019 and has been locked in a political dispute over the powers of the government and parliament.

Thousands protest against Tunisian president amid political crisis