TUNIS: The Tunisian justice minister asked the attorney general to open a judicial investigation against members of a suspended parliament on charges of “conspiring against state security” after they held an online full session on Wednesday, local media said.
Tunisian parliamentarians voted on Wednesday to repeal presidential decrees suspending their chamber and giving Kais Saied near total power, openly defying him in an online session, although he dismissed their meeting as illegal.
Saied — elected in 2019 on public anger against the political class — on July 25 last year sacked the government, froze the assembly and seized wide-ranging powers in a blow to democracy in the birthplace of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.
Arguing that the constitution allowed him to take “exceptional measures,” in September he extended the suspension of parliament and gave himself a mandate to rule and issue new laws by decree.
The parliament building in Tunis remains closed off by security forces, but 120 out of the assembly's 217 members attended Wednesday's virtual session.
Speaker Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, did not take part.
The session was headed by deputy speaker Tarek Fetiti, an independent MP.
A bill was passed by 116 of those present, cancelling Saied's “exceptional measures,” which the assembly said blocked the democratic process and threatened to reinstall an autocratic system.
The MPs also called for legislative and presidential elections and a national dialogue to break the political stalemate.
“We are not frozen or suspended MPs... but we are under the power of a new Pharaoh,” said independent and former presidential candidate Safi Said.
Saied has condemned as “illegal” meetings of Tunisia's parliament, saying those responsible for the virtual sessions were trying to sow chaos.
The powerful UGTT trade union on Tuesday also slammed the parliament sessions, saying they aimed to “drag the country into conflict and political division.”