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Tunisia's Ghannouchi condemns president's 'authoritarian' rule

Rached Ghannouchi, head of Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda party, delivers his speech in Sfax on June 5, 2022   -  
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The head of Tunisia's Islamist Ennahdha party, Rached Ghannouchi, has condemned President Kais Saied's "authoritarian" rule and accused him of bad conduct towards the judges who he sacked on Thursday.

Tunisia’s president last week sacked 57 judges, accusing them of corruption, protecting “terrorists”, and sexual harassment as he strengthened his grip on the judiciary.

"(We need to) Mobilise in support of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary and the freedom of the press. As well as in support of the values brought by the revolution, which are being threatened with this coup of this authoritarian, individual regime that wants to replace the constitution, the one chosen by the Tunisian people. The president behaved in a horrible way towards the judges, who are not employees but an authority," said Rached Ghannouchi, the head of Tunisia's Islamist Ennahdha party.

Last July, critics accused Saied of making a grab for one man-rule after he sacked the government and took hold of executive powers. He was accused of staging a coup after ditching the 2014 constitution, to rule instead of by decree.

Saied conferred on himself sweeping powers last year, measures the president claimed were needed to "save the country from imminent peril" and fight widespread corruption.

Under pressure from Tunisia's allies, who are concerned about democratic backsliding in the country, Saied has laid out a roadmap that foresees organizing a July 25 referendum on political reforms to amend the constitution.

That would be followed by a parliamentary election on Dec. 17.