Over 100 officials resign from Tunisia’s main Islamist party

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TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — More than 100 officials of Tunisia’s Islamist party Ennahdha announced their resignations Saturday to protest the choices of the movement’s leadership in confronting the North African country’s political crisis.

The split within the ranks of Ennahdha comes amid deep political crisis in Tunisia. In July, President Kaïs Saied’s decided to sack the country’s prime minister, suspend parliament and assume executive authority, saying it was because of a national emergency. His critics called it a coup.

In a statement released Saturday, 113 officials from Ennahdha, including lawmakers and former ministers, said they had resigned.

“This is a definitive and irrevocable decision,” Samir Dilou, an Ennahdha lawmaker and former minister from 2011 to 2014, told The Associated Press.

Dilou said the decision to resign was linked to the “impossibility of reforming the party from the inside” because of decisions being made by the head of the party, Rachid Ghannouchi, and his entourage. He also noted that Ennahdha, the largest party in parliament, has failed to counter Saied’s actions.

Earlier this week, Saied issued presidential decrees bolstering the already near-total power he granted himself two months ago.

Wednesday’s decrees include the continuing suspension of the Parliament’s powers, the suspension of all lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution and a freeze on lawmakers’ salaries.

They also stated Saied’s intention from now on to rule by presidential decree alone and ignore parts of the constitution. Laws will not go through the parliament, whose powers are frozen, granting him near-unlimited power.

Saied said his July decision was needed to save the country amid unrest over financial troubles and the government’s handling of Tunisia’s coronavirus crisis.

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