Opponents of Tunisian President Kais Saied accused him of seeking to extend his one-man rule and unilaterally remake the political system.

President Saied's focus has remained firmly on remaking the political system and tackling opponents.
President Saied's focus has remained firmly on remaking the political system and tackling opponents. (TUNISIAN PRESIDENCY / AFP)

Opponents of Tunisian President Kais Saied slammed his decision to extend a months-long suspension of parliament, accusing him of dealing another blow to the country's nascent democracy.

The criticism came on Tuesday, a day after Saied's vows to press on with reforms to Tunisia's political system after he sacked the government, froze the legislature and seized wide-ranging executive powers in July.

Political analyst Slaheddine Jourchi said Saied had "tried to pull the rug from under his rivals' feet by laying out a timeline".

Other opponents accused Saied of seeking to extend his one-man rule and unilaterally remake the political system.

Former MP Hichem Ajbouni wrote on Facebook that Saied's speech boiled down to: "I am the state, I am the president, I am the government, I am the parliament, I am the judiciary -- and everyone who opposes me is either hungry for power, a liar, a traitor, a thief, an agent, or ignorant."

Saied announced an 11-week "popular consultation" to produce "draft constitutional and other reforms" ahead of a referendum on July 25 next year.

That will mark a year since his power grab, which came as the North African country wallowed in political and economic crises compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: Tunisia announces referendum on political reforms, elections

'The street isn't reassured'

Saied said a consultation on constitutional reforms would be launched on January 1, via custom-built electronic platforms.

These proposals would then be examined by a committee of experts appointed by the president, before being put to referendum.

But former Ennahdha MP Samir Dilou said the idea would "make Tunisia an object of ridicule".

While many Tunisians, tired of a system seen as dysfunctional and corrupt, welcomed Saied's moves, he has also faced growing opposition in the form of mass demonstrations at home and pressure from abroad.

READ MORE: Thousands rally in Tunisia against Saied’s seizure of power

Saied had in October moved to rule by decree, escalating fears for the only democracy to have emerged from the 2011 Arab uprisings.

He said on Monday that parliament would remain suspended until new elections on December 17 next year, effectively dissolving the current assembly dominated by his nemesis, the Ennahdha party.

The analyst Jourchi said developments would depend on how the public reacts, adding that "The street isn't reassured. The economic situation is what concerns the Tunisian public."

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies