Tunisian Suspended Parliament Holds Online Session, Defying President

Journalists and other people in Tunis say the session was delayed because Zoom and Teams applications stopped working temporarily though it isn't clear if the problem was connected to the political situation

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Tunisian President Kais Saied arrives for a European Union—African Union summit in Brussels, Belgium, in February.
Tunisian President Kais Saied arrives for a European Union—African Union summit in Brussels, Belgium, in February.Credit: JOHN THYS/ Reuters

Suspended Tunisian parliament members voted to repeal last summer president's exceptional measures on Wednesday. The members of parliament defied President Kais Saied by holding their first full session since last summer when he suspended the chamber and moved to one-man rule.

Some 120 MPs attended the online session and hold a vote against the "exceptional measures" Saied has used since July to brush aside the 2014 democratic constitution and govern himself.

The move represents parliament's most direct challenge to Saied, who has dismissed it as being "of the past" and who late on Monday issued a stern warning that forces would confront "those who pushed Tunisians to fight".

The meeting started after an hour's delay. Reuters journalists and other people in Tunis said the connection to Zoom and Teams applications had stopped working temporarily though it was not clear if the problem was connected to the political situation. Officials at the Technology Ministry were not immediately available for comment.

The session was chaired by the Deputy Speaker Tarek Ftiti who said that 120 lawmakers took part. While the session may underscore increasing opposition to Saied and will challenge the legitimacy of his moves, it is not likely to alter his grip on power. "We are not afraid to defend a legitimate institution," said Yamina Zoglami, a parliament member from the moderate Islamist Ennahda.

"The people did not withdraw confidence from us. The president closed parliament with a tank." Parliament's increased confidence reflects broadening opposition to Saied as he tries to rewrite the constitution, take control of the judiciary and impose new restrictions on civil society.Ennahda, the biggest party in parliament with a quarter of the seats, and its leader, Rached Ghannouchi, who is parliamentary speaker, have been the most vocal critics of Saied.

Although political parties remain deeply divided against each other, more of them are now openly rallying against Saied and demanding he adopt an inclusive approach to any efforts to restructure the country's politics.

Tunisia threw off autocratic rule in a 2011 revolution and introduced democracy, but its system that shared power between president and parliament has proven unpopular after years of political paralysis and economic stagnation.

Saied, a political newcomer and constitutional law professor, was elected in 2019 in a landslide second-round victory against a media mogul who was facing corruption charges, and he promised to clean up Tunisian politics.

His critics accuse him of staging a coup last summer when he ousted the elected parliament and moved to one-man rule, saying his political reforms lack credibility.

As the economy moves towards disaster with the government seeking an international bailout and the powerful labor union warning of a general strike, many Tunisians have grown disillusioned with his focus on constitutional change.

However, Saied's intervention last summer appeared to be immensely popular with a country sick of the political squabbling that had characterized a democratic era in which jobs grew scarce and public services declined.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

Relatives mourn during the funeral of four teenage Palestinians from the Nijm family killed by an errant rocket in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, August 7.

Why Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rockets Kill So Many Palestinians

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed


AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op