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Tunisian president says there is ‘no turning back,’ rejects calls for talks

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Tunisia’s President Kais Saied said on Thursday there was “no turning back” from his decision to freeze parliament and assume executive power, moves his opponents have branded a coup.

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Speaking in a video published by his office, Saied also rejected calls for talks over the crisis, saying “there is no dialog except with the honest” and that no dialog was possible with “cancer cells.”

The biggest party in parliament, the Islamist Ennahda, which has been the most vocal opponent of Saied’s moves, had called for dialog in a statement earlier on Thursday.

Some 11 days after his intervention, Saied has not named a new prime minister, announced any steps to end the emergency or declared his longer-term intentions.

Demonstrators celebrate with a Tunisian national flag during a rally after the president suspended the legislature and fired the prime minister in Tunis, Tunisia, Sunday, July 25, 2021. (AP)
Demonstrators celebrate with a Tunisian national flag during a rally after the president suspended the legislature and fired the prime minister in Tunis, Tunisia, Sunday, July 25, 2021. (AP)

The powerful labor union, as well as both the US and France, have called on him to quickly appoint a new government. The union is preparing a roadmap to end the crisis that it says it will present to Saied.

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez and ranking member Jim Risch said on Thursday they were deeply concerned by the situation.

“President Saied must recommit to the democratic principles that underpin US-Tunisia relations, and the military must observe its role in a constitutional democracy,” they said in a joint statement.

Ousted Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi appeared in public for the first time on Thursday since he was dismissed. He was shown in pictures published by the anti-corruption watchdog that it said were taken on Thursday at its office.

Read more:

Tunisia’s labor union urges ‘rapid’ new PM appointment

Tunisian democracy was destroyed by corruption long before President Saied’s actions

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