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Tunisia police block MPs’ access to suspended parliament amid political crisis

Published: Updated:

Security forces deployed heavily around Tunisia’s parliament on Friday to block MPs demanding access to the legislature, whose activities were suspended by President Kais Saied in July.

AFP reporters saw uniformed and plain-clothes police using metal barriers to encircle the building in Le Bardo district of Greater Tunis, blocking access for pedestrians and cars.

More than 80 deputies, mostly from the Ennahdha party and its ally Qalb Tounes, had called for members of the 217-seat assembly to gather outside and demand it be reopened.

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Saied on July 25 suspended the legislature, sacked the government and seized control of the judiciary, later moving to rule by decree.

On Wednesday he appointed geologist Najla Bouden to form a government, which Saied himself will technically head under measures he announced last week.

Parliament remains frozen and its members stripped of their immunity, salaries and other privileges.

Journalists and members of the security forces surround Mohamed Goumani, a Tunisian deputy and member of the Annahda party, after being attacked by citizens in front of the Assembly headquarters, during a rally in the capital Tunis on October 1, 2021. (Fethi Belaid/AFP)
Journalists and members of the security forces surround Mohamed Goumani, a Tunisian deputy and member of the Annahda party, after being attacked by citizens in front of the Assembly headquarters, during a rally in the capital Tunis on October 1, 2021. (Fethi Belaid/AFP)

Yet despite dozens of MPs joining calls for a gathering to demand entry to parliament, AFP reporters only saw one.

“As a member of parliament, I’ve come to resume my work at parliament, but I found the doors closed,” said Mohamed Goumani from Ennahdha.

Supporters of Saied accosted him as plain clothed police looked on.

“Resign! Why did you come to parliament? You’ve already been here for 10 years! You don’t have any shame,” said a man in his 70s.

Supporters and opponents of Saied are both planning demonstrations in the capital on Sunday.

Four Tunisian political parties on Tuesday urged Saied to reverse his power grab, warning that his controversial moves could stoke violence.

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