US urges Tunisia to return to 'democratic path'

Saied on 25 July sacked premier Hichem Mechichi and suspended parliament for 30 days. He ordered a graft crackdown targeting 460 businessmen and an investigation into alleged illegal funding of political parties.

Conservative academic Kais Saied celebrates his victory in the Tunisian presidential election in the capital Tunis on 13 October 2019. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON – Tunisia should swiftly return to its "democratic path", a top White House official on Saturday told President Kais Saied, days after his shock power grab that included suspending parliament.

In an hour-long call with Saied, President Joe Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan noted support for "Tunisian democracy based on fundamental rights, strong institutions and a commitment to the rule of law", according to a White House statement.

Saied on 25 July sacked premier Hichem Mechichi and suspended parliament for 30 days. He ordered a graft crackdown targeting 460 businessmen and an investigation into alleged illegal funding of political parties.

READ: Tunisia in political turmoil as president sacks more officials

The president's surprise move has plunged Tunisia into political turmoil.

The US statement said the call "focused on the critical need for Tunisian leaders to outline a swift return to Tunisia's democratic path".

"This will require rapidly forming a new government, led by a capable prime minister to stabilize Tunisia's economy and confront the COVID-19 pandemic," it added.

On top of the political turmoil, the North African nation is beset by a crippling economic crisis marked by soaring inflation and high unemployment, as well as surging COVID-19 infections.

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