Tunisian President Kais Saied has suspended the country’s parliament and dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi following a day of protests against the ruling party.
Thousands of Tunisians had earlier taken to the streets in several cities protesting about government failures in the North African nation and devastating coronavirus rates.
Hundreds of protesters in Tunis had gathered in front of parliament, chanting slogans against the Islamist-inspired ruling Ennahdha party and premier Mechichi, with the crowd calling for the “dissolution of parliament”.
Tunisia has been rocked by COVID-19 infections and claimed more than 18,000 lives in the country.
Protests were also reported in other towns including Gafsa, Kairouan, Monastir, Sousse, and Tozeur.
“The constitution does not allow for the dissolution of parliament, but it does allow for its work to be suspended,” the president said, citing Article 80 which permits such a measure in case of “imminent danger”.
Saied said he would take over executive power “with the help” of a government headed by a new chief appointed by the president himself.
He also said that the immunity would be lifted for parliamentary deputies.
After 10 years since the 2011 revolution which overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia is still rocked by political turmoil that has stifled efforts to revive crumbling public services.
Rivalry between the president and other government officials has blocked ministerial appointments and diverted resources away from tackling Tunisia’s many economic and social problems.