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Moroccan FM meets Tunisian President amid political turmoil

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Photo tirée d'un reportage Africanews / AFP

Kaïs Saïed

Tunisian President Kais Saied received the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs who carried an oral message from King Mohammed VI.

This visit comes at a time when opponents of Tunisia's President Kais Saied, who sparked a crisis by ousting the premier and suspending parliament, challenged him Tuesday to hold new elections instead of building an "autocratic regime".

The moderate Islamist Ennahdha party, which was the strongest group in the coalition government, has labelled Sunday's power grab a "coup d'etat" while the US, EU and other powers have also voiced strong concern.

Ennahdha on Tuesday challenged the president to call new legislative and presidential elections, warning against any delay that would be "a pretext to maintain an autocratic regime".

Noureddine Bhiri, a leader of Ennada parliamentary block,  says; "no one, experts in constitutional law, deputies, political parties, civil society, no one doubts that these decisions are a coup against the constitution and a clear violation of Article 80 of the constitution."

"The republican regime is based on the rule of separation of powers and the decision of the President of the Republic has placed all powers - judicial, legislative, executive - in his hands. Therefore, it is constitutionally rejected, and against the principles of the Republic, which must be reversed."

The president's actions, ostensibly "to save Tunisia", followed a day of street protests against the government's poor handling of the Covid pandemic, which has claimed one of the world's highest official per-capita death tolls in Tunisia.

The president also said he would pick a new prime minister, lifted the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers, and warned armed opposition would be met with a "rain of bullets". He later fired the defence and justice ministers.