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The ‘slow coup’ taking Tunisia back to autocracy

Tunisia's president, Kais Saied, has dismantled the country's young democracy, arrested political opponents, and caused an economic crisis that could lead to a sovereign default, causing concern in Europe.

  • Tunisia's president, Kais Saied, has been dismantling the country's young democracy and arresting political opponents, judges, activists, and trade unionists in what Amnesty International called a politically motivated witch hunt.
  • Saied has tightened his grip on all levers of power, suspended the constitution, and dissolved the democratically elected parliament, replacing it with a rubber-stamp assembly elected under rules designed to marginalise political parties and concentrate power in his hands.
  • The economy has worsened under his leadership, and European officials and analysts warn of an impending meltdown. Economists predict that Tunisia will default on its debt.
  • There is a rising threat to social stability in Tunisia, causing increasing concern in Europe, especially Italy, whose outlying island of Lampedusa is just 113km from Tunisia.
  • As foreign exchange reserves dwindle, the value of the Tunisian dinar could fall by as much as 30% against the euro. This will cause inflation to skyrocket and push the economy towards a painful recession, cementing the view that Tunisia is heading towards a sovereign default.
The ‘slow coup’ taking Tunisia back to autocracy
President Saied is dismantling the institutions that a decade earlier had made the country a beacon for democracy in the Arab world