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Hundreds rally in Tunis to protest President Saied's 'power grab'

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By Josephine Joly with AFP
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Demonstrators chant slogans during a protest in Tunisia's capital Tunis on September 26, 2021, against President Kais Saied's recent steps to tighten his grip on power.
Demonstrators chant slogans during a protest in Tunisia's capital Tunis on September 26, 2021, against President Kais Saied's recent steps to tighten his grip on power.   -   Copyright  FETHI BELAID / AFP
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Around 2,000 protesters have rallied in Tunisia’s capital on Sunday, calling for the country's constitution to be respected and demanding the impeachment of President Kaïs Saied.

Saied gave himself the power to rule by decree on Wednesday, two months after sacking the prime minister, suspending parliament, and assuming executive authority, saying it was because of a national emergency.

Critics have called the move a coup, and protesters demanded the parliament to be reinstated.

Dozens of Saied supporters held a counter-protest but were separated by security barriers.

On Saturday, more than 100 officials from Tunisia's largest political party, the moderate Islamist Ennahdha, announced their resignations to protest the movement’s leadership.

They called Saied’s moves "a flagrant coup against democratic legitimacy" and blamed the head of the party, Rachid Ghannouchi, for failing to form a united front to oppose Saied and confront the country’s political crisis.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Monday condemning the move, calling it "a first step towards authoritarianism".

"This turning point threatens the human rights and democratic aspirations of the Tunisian people," the statement said.

This is the second protest since Saied dismissed the government and suspended parliament on July 25.