Tunisia’s President Kais Saied ordered, on Monday, an overnight curfew and other restrictions effective from 26 July to 27 August, a day after his sacking the government and suspension of parliament for 30 days.
He also prohibited gatherings of more than three people in public roads or squares.
The Tunisian President has activated emergency powers under Article 80 of the country’s constitution.
The step represents a blow to the Muslim Brotherhood which controls the parliament in the country. Tunisia is currently facing its biggest political test since the 2011 revolution.
Saied’s Sunday decisions led to a confrontation between his supporters and opponents.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, received a phone call, on Monday afternoon, from Tunisia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Othman Grandi.
The call dealt with the developments that Tunisia has been witnessing in the last phase, which led to the presidential decisions that were announced on 25 January.
On Monday, Saied issued a presidential order relieving the Prime Minister in charge of managing the affairs of the Ministry of Interior Hisham Al-Mashishi, along with Minister of Defence Ibrahim Al-Bertajy, and Acting Minister of Justice Hasna Ben Suleiman, from their positions.
For the Minister of Defense and the Acting Minister of Justice, Saied assigned the “public clerks” in the two ministries to handle administrative and financial matters until a new government is named.
The President also assigned “the secretaries-general or those charged with administrative and financial affairs at the head of the government and the aforementioned ministries to handle their administrative and financial affairs until a new prime minister and new members are named.”
The step also comes after demonstrations against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Ennahda movement took place in many cities across the country, despite the heavy police presence to limit movement.
In the vicinity of the parliament, dozens of supporters of Saied’s decision gathered and were met by rival supporters of the Ennahda movement. The matter developed into skirmishes and stone throwing between the two parties, which were separated by security forces.
The Speaker of the Assembly of the Representatives Rached Ghannouchi is also carrying out a sit-in that he started on Monday morning in front of Parliament in the capital, Tunis, after the army prevented him from entering the building.
Observers told the Reuters news agency that some possible scenarios may occur in the coming days. These include supporters of Saied, who is politically independent, and supporters of the Ennahda movement potentially descending into streets across the country.
This could lead to violent confrontations between the two sides that may prompt the security forces to intervene and start an era of unrest in Tunisia.
President Saied may quickly appoint a new prime minister to deal with a sharp rise in novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and an impending financial crisis, whilst restoring Parliament’s powers after the 30-day suspension ends. This would allow Parliament to carry out its normal business, with early parliamentary elections to follow.
Reports note that Saied’s biggest struggle will be with the moderate Islamist Ennahda party and its veteran president Rached Ghannouchi, the former political prisoner who returned from exile to Tunisia in 2011.