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Tunisians protest against president ahead of parliamentary elections

Protesters take to the streets in Tunis, Tunisia on December 11, 2022.

Tunisians have staged a mass rally ahead of parliamentary elections to protest against President Kais Saied's power grab.

"Saied get out!” protesters chanted as they marched in the center of the Tunisian capital city of Tunis.

Speakers at the rally, including senior politicians from opposition parties that have been marginalized by Saied, said the vote scheduled for December 17 to be held under the new constitution was illegitimate and urged a boycott, accusing Saied of carrying out a coup.

The National Salvation Front, a body representing the main parties in Tunisia’s opposition, including the powerful Ennahdha Party also known as the Renaissance Party, has been urging supporters to boycott the vote.

“The elections will be held under the supervision of a body that is not neutral and is loyal to the ruling authority,” Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, the head of the alliance, said as he announced its stance in September.

Saied gained nearly total powers after voters voted “yes” in July in a referendum on a new constitution, which gives the president the ultimate authority over the government and judiciary.

Read more:
Amid low turnout, Tunisia’s Saied wins vote for sweeping power 

His critics say Saied, who dissolved the parliament and dismissed the prime minister in March 2021, wants his loyalists in the national assembly to consolidate a system of government run by one person with absolute power.

Saied, a former university professor and expert on constitutional law who rose to power in October 2019 pledging to fight corruption, still retains a degree of support from some Tunisians who see him as a bulwark against political elites they blame for the country’s poor economic conditions over the decade since a 2011 revolution that ousted dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

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