Tunisia’s Ghannouchi rejects extension of parliament freeze

TUNIS, TUNISIA - 2021/02/27: The leader of the Ennahda movement, Rached Ghannouchi speaks to his supporters during the demonstration. Supporters of the Islamist Ennahdha party protest demanding the end of political crisis in the country as the cabinet revise issues between President of Tunisia, Kais Saied and Prime Minister Prime Minister of Tunisia, Hichem Mechichi continues in Tunis, Tunisia. (Photo by Jdidi Wassim/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Tunisia’s speaker of parliament Rached Ghannouchi on Thursday rejected President Kais Saied’s decision to extend the suspension of parliament until elections in December 2022, which he termed as “unconstitutional and illegal”.

Saied had announced on Monday that parliament will remain suspended until next year elections take place, declaring that a referendum on constitutional reforms will be held in July.

Ghannouchi , who is also head of the Ennahdha party, expressed his “absolute rejection of suspending parliament for another year”.

The move “prolongs [Saied’s] one-man rule and deepens the political crisis in the country and its financial, economic and social consequences as well as isolating Tunisia internationally”, he wrote on Facebook adding that the only way out of the current crisis was  “by the immediate cancellation of exceptional measures” made by the president to hold a comprehensive national dialogue.

Saied brushed aside most of the 2014 democratic constitution in September saying he could rule by decree during a period of exceptional measures and promised dialogue on further changes.

This move was denounced by critics but largely cheered by Tunisians.

He has, however, faced growing international and local pressure to reinstate democratic institutions.

(With input from wires)