Ousted Tunisian PM not under house arrest: Sources

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Ousted Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi is at his home and not under arrest, one source close to him and two Tunisian security sources said on Monday after President Kais Saied dismissed him on Sunday in a move critics called a coup.

Troops surrounded Tunisia’s parliament and blocked its speaker from entering Monday after the president suspended the legislature and fired the prime minister following nationwide protests over the country’s economic troubles and coronavirus crisis.

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Protesters celebrated President Kais Saied’s decision late Sunday night with shouts of joy, honking horns and waving Tunisian flags. But his critics accused him of a power grab that threatens Tunisia’s young democracy.

Police intervened Monday to prevent clashes outside the parliament building between lawmakers from the Ennahda party, which dominates the Assembly of the Representatives of the People of Tunisia, and demonstrators supporting the president.

Both sides shouted and some stones were thrown, according to an Associated Press reporter and videos circulating online.

The dissolution of parliament had been among the demands of thousands of protesters who defied virus restrictions and scorching heat to demonstrate Sunday in the capital, Tunis, and other cities.

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The largely young crowds shouted “Get out!” and slogans calling for early elections, and also pushed for economic reforms. Clashes erupted in many places.

Tunisia’s economy has been struggling for years, and the country recently reimposed lockdowns and other virus restrictions because it’s facing one of Africa’s worst virus outbreaks.

The president said he had to fire the prime minister and suspend parliament because of concerns over public violence.

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