Tunisia’s president dismissed the government and froze parliament on Sunday, prompting crowds to fill the capital in support of a move that dramatically escalated a political crisis, but that his opponents called a coup.
President Kais Saied said he would assume executive authority with the assistance of a new prime minister, in the biggest challenge yet to a 2014 democratic constitution that split powers between president, prime minister and parliament.
Crowds of people quickly flooded the capital’s streets, cheering and honking car horns in scenes that recalled the 2011 revolution that brought democracy and triggered the Arab spring protests that convulsed the Middle East.
However, the extent of support for Saied’s moves against a fragile government and divided parliament was not clear and he warned against any violent response.
“I warn any who think of resorting to weapons… and whoever shoots a bullet, the armed forces will respond with bullets,” he said in a statement carried on television.