Name? Kais Saied
Westphalian identity? Tunisian
Why is he in the news? Yesterday, Kais Saied, President of Tunisia, suspended the parliament and dismissed the prime minister while assuming executive authority with the assistance of a new prime minister he will choose. Saied claims that he is bringing the country much needed stability after months of stagnation and a few days of protests.
Why do we care? Tunisia was the only country to come out somewhat stable from the so-called Arab Spring, well, until yesterday. Saied’s move could have been considered a necessary step by the executive to overcome political stagnation. But given the fact that he has since been purging through the cabinet, replacing ministers with individuals loyal to him, the story of political stability is hard to believe…
Why should you care? And if that wasn’t enough, today the police stormed the Al Jazeera office in Tunis expelling all staff and confiscating equipment. That is no longer stabilising a political crisis but a full-on coup. You should care 10/10 about the freedom of the press, especially when being restricted by a democratically elected leader!
Who else cares? The international community. As this is just happening, there is not one single country that has stepped up to Saied. Turkey and Qatar have condemned his actions as a coup. Meanwhile, European leaders have been a bit more hesitant in calling the actions of a democratically elected leader a coup attempt. All in all, reactions have mostly been concerned with the democratic stability of Tunisia and not as much with the country’s stability and faith.
Any further comments? While some parts of the population seem to welcome Saied’s move as a means to overcome the elite’s failure to govern effectively, others have assembled outside the parliament to protest the power grab. Political parties and players from all sides of the spectrum have now called for a national coalition government to overcome this political (and constitutional) crisis.