On Sunday, Tunisian President Kais Saied announced the suspension of the country’s Parliament and immunity of all deputies and sacked Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi following a series of mass protests across Tunisia.
In a speech broadcast after the sacking, Saied called military and security officers for an emergency meeting at Carthage Palace and announced his plan to take over the executive authority with the help of a new prime minister.
The President then based his actions on Article 80 of the country’s constitution, stating that it allowed him to take such measures in specific situations.
Here is a timeline of major events in recent years that led to the president’s actions.
* December 2017 - The economy approaches crisis point as the trade deficit soars and the currency slides.
* January 2018 - Protesters march in cities across the country over lower living standards caused by the economic problems and government efforts to reduce the deficit by cutting subsidies and hiking tax.
* May 2018 – Islamist Ennahda does better than other political parties in municipal elections, but with public frustration over the economy, only 34 percent of voters turn out.
* July 2019 - With elections looming, Beji Caid Essebsi, the winner of Tunisia’s first free presidential election in 2014, dies. The presidential vote is brought forward from November to September.
* October 2019 - Voters show dissatisfaction with the major parties, first electing a deeply fractured parliament and then political outsider Kais Saied as president.
* January 2020 - Saied designates Elyes Fakhfakh as prime minister after parliament rejects a government proposed by an earlier nominee.
* April 2020 - Tunisia secures a $743 million loan from the IMF to help counter the economic effects of the coronavirus.
* July 2020 - Pressure on the government mounts after opponents call for Fakhfakh’s resignation over an alleged conflict of interest by owning shares in companies that had received state contracts. He denied wrongdoing.
* February 2021: Police lock down a large area of central Tunis, blocking roads as thousands of protesters, backed by the country’s powerful labor union, gathered in Tunisia’s biggest demonstration for years.The rally was held to mark the anniversary of the 2013 killing of a prominent activist and to protest against police abuses that demonstrators say have imperiled the freedoms won in the 2011 revolution that triggered the “Arab spring.”
* June 2021 - Tunisian MP Abir Moussi, the 46-year-old woman in charge of the Free Destourian Party, is slapped in the middle of a parliamentary session by independent MP Sahbi Samara. The incident provoked outrage from Tunisians and condemnation from President Kais Saied, and was one of many factors leading to his suspension of parliament and removing immunity for MPs.
* July 2021: Hundreds of protesters rally in the Tunisian capital and other cities demanding the government step down after a spike in COVID-19 cases that has aggravated economic troubles.
* July 2021: Saied invoked emergency powers under the constitution's Article 18 to dismiss Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspend parliament for 30 days, saying he would govern alongside a new premier. He rejected accusations of a coup.