Kais Said. AlQalamTV TUNISIA Under CC license

A Coup Puts Tunisia in Political Crisis

On July 25th, Tunisian President Kais Saied fired the prime minister, dismissed parliament, and assumed dictatorial powers. This was a self-coup in which the President invoked an emergency clause in the constitution allowing him to rule by decree.

The move came as a shock to outsiders.

Tunisia was long considered the lone success story of the Arab Spring. It was where the Arab Spring began in 2011 and it was the only country to emerge from the upheaval as a functioning democracy. The Tunisian civil society groups that helped peacefully broker a political consensus around the country’s democratic transition even won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.

But as my guest today Tarek Megirisi explains, Tunisians by in large have grown increasingly wary of this political system. It has not delivered for them — and it is in this context that Kais Saeid — a relative newcomer to Tunisian politics — was able to seize power.

Tarek Megirisi is a Senior Policy Fellow at European Council on Foreign Relations and we kick off this conversation with a discussion of Kais Saeid’s unique background before having a longer conversation about the domestic and international implications of this power grab in Tunisia.

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