Tunisia’s president said on Sunday he was dismissing the prime minister and freezing parliament in a major escalation of political feuding in the democratic country following protests in several cities.
President Kais Saied said he would assume executive authority with the assistance of a new prime minister, prompting the biggest challenge yet to a 2014 constitution that split powers between president, prime minister and parliament.
“Many people were deceived by hypocrisy, treachery and robbery of the rights of the people,” he said in a statement carried on state media.
“I warn any who think of resorting to weapons … and whoever shoots a bullet, the armed forces will respond with bullets,” he added.
Saied has been enmeshed in political disputes with Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi for over a year, as the country grapples with an economic crisis, a looming fiscal crunch and a flailing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said in his statement that his actions were in line with the constitution, and also suspended the immunity of members of parliament.
Saied and the parliament were both elected in separate popular votes in 2019, while Mechichi took office last summer, replacing another short-lived government.