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Mass protest as Tunisia political crisis escalates

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FETHI BELAID/AFP or licensors


Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Tunisian capital on Sunday demanding the country's constitution be respected and parliament reinstated. 

In July, Saied decided to sack the country's prime minister, suspend parliament - whose powers are now frozen - and assume executive authority, saying it was because of a national emergency.

His critics called it a coup.

Some of those participating in the protest were lawmakers from the Islamist party Ennahdha.

According to Jamila Jouini, An Ennahda party lawmaker, the constitution of the second republic must be respected.

"Today we went out carrying the flag of Tunisia and the constitution of the second republic, which most of the Tunisian people voted for. There is no way to speak on behalf of the Tunisian people. This is the constitution of an elected Constituent Assembly and all Tunisian people participated in writing it."

President Kaïs Saied's recent decrees bolstered the already near-total power he granted himself two months ago.

They include the continuing suspension of the parliament’s powers, the suspension of all lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution and a freeze on lawmakers' salaries.

"I politely ask Kais Saied to reconsider the decisions he made. Let him return to the polls and to the legitimacy. The Assembly of Representatives is the source of our legitimacy, if we take it away, chaos will take place" stressed a local resident.

"No to collecting all the authorities, no to overthrowing and burning the constitution, no to violating freedoms, no to overthrowing the constitutional oversight body of laws. Our freedoms are a red line. We want to divide the powers, the executive, the legislative and the president's authority," added another resident.

On Saturday more than 100 Ennahdha officials announced their resignations to protest the choices of the movement's leadership, with one senior lawmaker quoting the “impossibility of reforming the party from the inside”.

Dozens of Saied supporters held a counter-protest but were separated by security barriers.

The protest comes amid a deep political crisis in Tunisia.

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