Ankara denounces the dissolution of the Tunisian parliament as a “defamation of democracy”

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President Tayyip Erdoğan and other Turkish officials have criticized Tunisian President Kais Saied’s decision to dissolve the country’s parliament last week, saying it was a blow to the will of the Tunisian people and a “smear of democracy”.

In a statement on Monday, Erdoğan said he hoped developments in Tunisia would not damage the country’s efforts for democratic legitimacy or derail the electoral calendar. The transition must be made with the participation of all parties concerned, including parliament, and a “comprehensive and meaningful” dialogue, he said.

“Democracy is a system that embodies respect between elected and appointed. We see the developments in Tunisia as an attack on democracy,” he said.

“Dissolving the parliament where there are elected officials is worrying for the future of Tunisia and is a blow to the will of the people,” he added.

The president went on to note that Turkey will continue to stand alongside Tunisia and the Tunisian people in this “critical process”.

Erdoğan had urged Saied to allow parliament to continue its work in August.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Speaker of Parliament Mustafa Şentop also condemned the decision.

In a statement, Bozdağ said he condemned the unjust dissolution of parliament and the investigation against some lawmakers in violation of constitutional guarantees.

“Illegal developments against elected officials are unacceptable,” Bozdağ said.

Şentop also condemned the decision, saying it openly violates the law and democratic principles.

Noting that the dissolution of parliament, which represents the will of the Tunisian people, despite the constitution, openly contradicts the law and democratic principles.

He went on to say that all decisions and acts that prevent elected legislators and legislatures from carrying out their duties undermine the democratic order and the rule of law.

Tunisia’s political crisis deepened last week when more than half of MPs held an online session to revoke President Kais Saied’s decrees. Saied suspended parliament in July in a move his opponents call a coup.

Saied said last week that he would not hold a snap election, the latest step in a march towards one-man rule after discarding most of the democratic constitution.

Tunisia has been in the grip of a deep crisis since January 16, 2021, when Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi announced a cabinet reshuffle, but Saied refused to hold a ceremony to swear in the new ministers.

Turkey has expressed its “deep concern” over the suspension of the Tunisian parliament, which represents the “will of the people”.

The country is considered to be the only Arab country that has successfully completed a democratic transition among other Arab countries that have also witnessed popular revolutions that overthrew ruling regimes including Egypt, Libya and the Yemen. However, many Tunisians saw little improvement in their lives and became disillusioned with a dysfunctional and corrupt political process.

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