More than 5,000 demonstrators held a show of support throughout Tunisia for President Kais Saied whose power grab has stirred controversy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring.
With an estimated 3,000 of them rallying in the capital Tunis, the pro-Saied crowd exceeded that which gathered a week earlier to oppose him.
On July 25, after months of political stalemate, Saied sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament and granted himself judicial powers, a move he followed up by measures that effectively allow the president to rule by decree.
In the latest detention of a legislator after the immunity of MPs was lifted under the suspension, a deputy and a journalist — whose television programme he appeared in to criticise Saied — were arrested Sunday, their lawyer Samir Ben Omar said.
Saied, elected on an anti-system ticket in late 2019, has said his action seeks to “save” Tunisia from “imminent peril” and a socio-economic crisis aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Security forces were deployed in force Sunday on Bourguiba Avenue, especially in front of the municipal theatre where the demonstration occurred.
The previous Sunday a crowd of an estimated 2,000 people rallied, also on Bourguiba Avenue, to protest what critics have branded Saied’s “coup d’etat”.
In the programme, they both criticised the president’s September 29 appointment of NajlaBouden as Tunisia’s first woman prime minister, with Ayad scoffing that she would function only as “servant of the sultan”.