Tunisia FM tells UN emergency measures aim to ensure 'democracy'

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


Recent emergency measures strengthening the powers of Tunisian President Kais Saied were aimed at ensuring "an authentic and peaceful democracy" in the country, its foreign minister told world leaders Monday.

Saied on July 25 sacked prime minister Hichem Mechichi, suspended parliament and granted himself judicial powers.

On Wednesday, he followed up the move by announcing "exceptional measures" that allow him to rule by decree.

Some 2,000 Tunisians rallied in Tunis at the weekend to protest the steps.

"In Tunisia, we started a capacity-building enterprise based on the hope of an authentic and peaceful democracy," Othman Jerandi said on the last day of the annual high-level UN General Assembly meeting.

The moves "responded to the will of the Tunisian people" and were about protecting "their rights, their freedoms," he added.

Jerandi said Saied took the "exceptional measures" to put the country "back on track to respect the principles of democracy."

The president made his power grab after months of political stalemate and amid mounting economic and social turmoil aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Large crowds cheered his move all over the country at the time, but the mood was hostile at the smaller demonstration in Tunis on Sunday.