“Legitimacy passes through the vote”, approximately 2,000 demonstrators, according to observers, denounced Sunday in Tunis “the power in the hands of one man”, saying fear “a return to the dictatorship of Ben Ali”, after the adoption by President Saied of exceptional measures this week.

In the middle of a crowd gathered in front of the municipal theater of Tunis, two tall women stand out in this demonstration, the most important since the coup by President Kais Saied on July 25.

Jeans and straw hat, Nade, 27, administrative agent, came with her mother Leila, her hair under a scarf, to demonstrate “against the president’s decisions which block democracy”.

“There is no longer a Parliament, it has changed the laws, all the power is in the hands of one man. He wants to do everything on his own, “criticizes the young woman.

Armored, police vans and metal barriers to filter the passage from one area to another, the security forces are deployed en masse on Avenue Bourguiba, the capital’s main artery.

On Wednesday, President Saied issued a decree that supersedes various chapters of the Constitution, containing “exceptional measures”. These perpetuate the freezing of Parliament, allow it to legislate by decree, to chair the Council of Ministers, and to enact laws in all areas.

“We are going back to the time of Ben Ali (1987-2011), to a dictatorship”, worries Nade, joining one of the slogans most clamored on Sunday: “Constitution, freedom and dignity national ”.

The young girl says she is worried, because “thanks to the revolution of 2011, Tunisia finally had rights” that “she does not want to lose”.

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Nearby, a sixty-year-old also came to “defend the Constitution”. “This is not the Constitution of the Islamists, the left or others, it is a reflection that has involved everyone”, deplores this framework in the industry.

“Why withdraw the Constitution and replace it with something else. We could improve it, but constitutionally, not like that, ”he says.

” I am scared ”

According to him, the demonstration brings together well beyond the supporters of former President Moncef Marzouki who was one of the initiators. “There are people from Al Karama (Islamo-conservative party), many people on the left, ordinary citizens”, explains this “independent”.

For him, the president “went beyond the framework of article 80 by invoking an“ imminent danger ”for national security to justify his coup. “I am afraid for my children, the youth, that Tunisia will fall back into a dictatorship,” he said.

Kais Saied, elected at the end of 2019, surprised on July 25, by announcing that he was dismissing the prime minister, suspending the activities of parliament and also granting himself judicial power.

After months of political blockage and in the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis aggravating the country’s economic and social difficulties, this coup had been greeted by scenes of popular jubilation.

Not far from the sexagenarian, a woman waves in one hand a Tunisian flag and in the other the booklet of the Constitution. For this 58-year-old banking executive who does not mean his first name, now “the president has all the powers, it’s worse than Ben Ali”.

Some slogans castigate a supposed role of France and criticize the upcoming holding of the Francophonie summit in Tunisia which, according to them, endorses the actions of Mr. Saied: “França clears”, “Saied, servant of the settlers”.

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Ibrahim, 59, carries a sign showing Mr. Saied kissing the shoulder of his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron: “It’s not against Macron. I voted for Saied and they betrayed us ”.

On Saturday, around twenty Tunisian and international human rights organizations criticized in a press release “the grabbing of power” by the president, which they described as “unprecedented drift”.

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