The head of Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party, Rached Ghannouchi, on Monday dismissed the party’s executive committee amid criticism of his handling of a month-old political crisis.
Ghannouchi, the parliament speaker, led opposition to a move by President Kais Saied in July to assume executive authority, dismiss the prime minister and freeze parliament, an intervention labelled by Ennahda as a coup.
However, prominent leaders from within his party, the largest in Tunisia’s parliament, have demanded that he quit the leadership amid divisions over its response to the crisis and his strategic choices since a 2019 election.
“Ennahda’s head decided to dismiss the party’s executive members and restructure it in a way that responds to the requirements of the phase,” the party said in statement.
Ennahda has been the most consistently powerful party in Tunisia since the 2011 revolution that led to the ousting of its long-time president, playing a role in backing successive coalition governments.
However, it has lost support as the economy stagnated and public services declined.
Saied has said his intervention was needed to save the country from collapse. He appears to have widespread popular support in Tunisia, where years of misgovernance, corruption and political paralysis have been aggravated by a deadly surge in COVID-19 cases.