After Tunisian MPs convened online, the parliament was dissolved and an investigation was launched: After holding an online full session on Wednesday, Tunisian justice minister ordered the attorney general to begin a judicial inquiry into members of a suspended parliament on grounds of “conspiring against state security,” according to local media.
Tunisian legislators decided on Wednesday to overturn presidential directives suspending their chamber and awarding Kais Saied near-total power, openly opposing him in an online session, despite his dismissal of their gathering as unconstitutional.
In a blow to democracy in the cradle of the 2011 Arab Spring protests, Saied, who was elected in 2019 on public outrage at the political elite, fired the government, froze the assembly, and seized broad powers on July 25 last year.
In September, he extended the suspension of parliament and granted himself a mandate to rule and issue new laws by decree, claiming that the constitution permitted him to use “extraordinary measures.”
Security troops have cordoned off the parliament building in Tunis, but 120 of the assembly’s 217 members attended the virtual session on Wednesday.
Rached Ghannouchi, the speaker and leader of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, did not attend.
Deputy Speaker Tarek Fetiti, an independent MP, presided over the meeting.
Saied’s “special measures,” which the assembly claimed obstructed the democratic process and threatened to reinstate an autocratic regime, were repealed by 116 of those present.
To overcome the political impasse, the MPs also called for parliamentary and presidential elections, as well as a national dialogue.
“We are not frozen or suspended members of parliament… but we are under the rule of a new Pharaoh,” claimed Safi Said, an independent and previous presidential contender.
Tunisia’s parliament meetings have been branded as “illegal,” according to Saied, who claims those in charge of the virtual sessions are attempting to sow disorder.
The powerful UGTT trade union condemned the parliament sessions on Tuesday, claiming that they were intended to “lead the country into violence and political split.”