Tunisian parliament speaker defies president with planned sessions

Tunisia's parliament will hold two full sessions this week, the speaker said on Monday, to consider revoking President Kais Saied moves toward a new constitution and one-man rule.

The sessions would be the first by the suspended chamber, since Saied seized most executive powers last July, and present the biggest direct challenge to the legitimacy of Saied's actions.

Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi, who heads the Islamist Ennahda which is the biggest party in the chamber with a quarter of the seats, has been one of Saied's most vocal critics since July, accusing him of a coup.

Saied rejects that accusation, saying his actions were needed to save Tunisia from what he describes as a corrupt, self-serving elite and a political system that brought a decade of paralysis and stagnation since the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy.

Saied, a former constitutional lawyer, has shown little appetite for compromise since his landslide second-round election victory as a political neophyte in 2019.

Speaking on Sunday, Saied referred to reports that parliament members were planning a session by saying "whoever wants to go back is delusional ... let them meet in a spaceship".

Two other major parties, Heart of Tunisia and Karama, as well as a number of independent parliament members, are expected to join the session, meaning more than half of all members might be present.

However, the parliament in the Ottoman-era Bardo Palace in Tunis has been closed off by the army and police since Saied's intervention so any new session may have to take place online.

By Reuters