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US says concerned about developments in Tunisia, urges calm

“Tunisia must not squander its democratic gains. The United States will continue to stand on the side of Tunisia’s democracy,” the State Department said.

Published: Updated:

The United States is concerned about developments in Tunisia and urged calm in the country, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday, adding the United States is in touch with senior Tunisian leaders.

Tunisia’s young democracy faces its worst crisis in a decade on Monday after President Kais Saied ousted the government and suspended parliament with help from the army, a move condemned as a coup by the main parties, including Islamists.

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Supporters of Tunisia's biggest political party, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, take cover from stones thrown at them by supporters of President Kais Saied, outside the parliament building in Tunis, July 26, 2021. (Reuters)
Supporters of Tunisia's biggest political party, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, take cover from stones thrown at them by supporters of President Kais Saied, outside the parliament building in Tunis, July 26, 2021. (Reuters)

His action followed months of deadlock and disputes pitting him against Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and a fragmented parliament as Tunisia descended into an economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are concerned about the developments in Tunisia,” Psaki said at a news briefing.

“We are in touch at a senior level from both the White House and the State Department with Tunisian leaders to learn more about the situation, urge calm and support Tunisian efforts to move forward in line with democratic principles,” she added.

Psaki said the White House has not made a determination on whether it was a coup, adding that it was looking to the U.S. State Department to conduct a legal analysis before making a determination.

The State Department later said it was closely monitoring developments in Tunisia. “We have been in contact with Tunisian government officials to stress that solutions to Tunisia’s political and economic troubles should be based on the Tunisian constitution and the principles of democracy, human rights, and freedom,” a statement from the State Department read.

The State Department called on all sides to refrain from violence, voicing concern over reports that media offices had been closed.

“Tunisia must not squander its democratic gains. The United States will continue to stand on the side of Tunisia’s democracy,” the State Department said.

Read more: Tunisian Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi accuses president of coup