Chants of “the people want the coup d’etat to fall” reverberated in central Tunis with a smaller counter-protest in support of President Kais Saied taking place nearby.

Those protesting against President Saied criticise him of impairing Tunisia's nascent democracy.
Those protesting against President Saied criticise him of impairing Tunisia's nascent democracy. (AFP)

Hundreds have rallied for and against Tunisian President Kais Saied in central Tunis, on the eleventh anniversary of the start of a revolution that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.

Several hundred anti-Saied protesters gathered near the city centre on Friday, shouting "the people want the coup d'etat to fall" as dozens of police looked on.

They outcry referred to Saied's power grab. In July this year, Saied sacked the government, froze parliament and seized far-reaching powers.

Some demonstrators held signs in support of the North African country's 2014 constitution, which Saied said earlier this week he wants to revise and put to a new referendum.

Parliamentarians and Saied's opponents Ennahdha have bitterly opposed his moves, but many Tunisians tired of a system seen as corrupt and ineffective have welcomed them.

A few hundred metres along, and past hundreds of police officers and metal barriers, a smaller number of Saied supporters rallied, with a banner that read "We are with you to the end in the fight against corruption."

READ MORE: Why is anti-Saied sentiment on the rise in Tunisia?

Revolution hijacked?

On December 17, 2010, street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself alight in the marginalised town of Sidi Bouzid, sparking a four-week revolt that forced veteran dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power.

The events that followed the self-immolation of Bouazizi also sparked a string of uprisings in other Arab countries, leading to the infamous Arab Spring.

Saied earlier this month moved the official anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution from January 14, the date Ben Ali fled into exile, to December 17.

On Monday, the former constitutional law lecturer prolonged his suspension of parliament, dominated by Ennahdha, until new elections in December next year.

He also announced a nationwide public consultation to draw up a new constitution, with a referendum set for July 25.

The president sees the revolution as having been hijacked by politicians branded as corrupt and has repeatedly voiced his desire to change the 2014 constitution.

The constitution,  which had brought in a hybrid parliamentary-presidential system, was seen as a historic compromise between Ennahdha and its secular opponents.

READ MORE: Is Tunisia's Kais Saied turning back the clock on the country's democracy?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies