The ambassadors of the G7 group of advanced economies urged Tunisia’s president on Monday to appoint a new head of government as a matter of urgency and return to a constitutional order in which an elected parliament plays a significant role.
The statement, put out by the British Embassy on social media, is the most significant public expression of unease by major democracies since President Kais Saied seized governing powers in July in moves his opponents called a coup.
“We underline the urgent need to appoint a new head of government to form a capable government able to address the immediate economic and health crises facing Tunisia,” the statement said.
Saied did not directly comment on the G7 statement. But in remarks later on Monday to the National Guard, he said: “Tunisia is a sovereign country and sovereignty belongs to the people”.
Western democracies have been among the most important donors helping to support Tunisian public finances over the past decade as the economy has slumped since the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy.
Saied, who was elected in 2019, said on July 25 he was freezing parliament, lifting the immunity of its members, dismissing the prime minister and that he would assume executive authority alongside a new premier.
He said his intervention was in line with the constitution and necessitated by a national emergency due to political paralysis, high COVID-19 rates, and protests. He has vowed that rights will not be affected.
Six weeks on, however, he has not named a prime minister or said what he plans to do, has indefinitely rolled over the emergency measures, and said there can be “no going back”, while Tunisians speculate about whether he will amend the constitution.
The G7 statement said appointing a prime minister would “create space for an inclusive dialogue about proposed constitutional and electoral reforms” and added that democratic values would remain central to their relations with Tunisia.