On the night of 25 July 2021, President Kais Saied announced the dismissal of Prime Minister Hicham Mechini and the suspension of parliament for 30 days in response to large-scale protests in several cities throughout the country. In the capital Tunis, thousands of people marched in the streets calling for social, political and economic reforms. Demonstrators clashed with police officers by throwing rocks and other projectiles at security forces, while police officers responded by firing tear gas and detaining several people. Security forces erected blockades along all streets leading to Avenue Bourguiba — a central location in the capital for protesters during the 2011 Arab Spring — as well as near the parliament building on Avenue Habib Bourguiba. Unverified social media videos showed Ennahda political offices — the largest political party in parliament — set alight in several cities, and military convoys being deployed in the city of Bardo, located in western metro Tunis.
According to local media sources, Pro-Ennahda supporters and anti-Ennahda protesters clashes outside of the parliament building as security forces attempted to keep demonstrators separated. A spokesperson for the Heart of Tunisia political party joined with Ennahda calling for parliament to reconvene. In attempt to defy Saied’s suspension of parliament, several lawmakers attempted to enter the parliament building; however, the lawmakers were denied entrance into the building by security services personnel. Elsewhere in Tunisia, unverified social media videos showed government soldiers surrounding the ministry of the interior building and Tunis Afrique Presse — the state-owned news agency in Tunisia.
Analyst Comment: Tunisia is experiencing its largest protests since the 2011 Arab Spring. Government soldiers are likely to remain deployed in several cities as protests, and altercations between supporters of President Saied and former Prime Minister Mechini are highly likely. President Saied is expected to announce a new prime minister within the coming days. Saied’s choice for prime minister will likely increase protests among supports of Ennahda, especially if Saied’s choice is a member of a rival political party.