TUNIS (Dispatches) – Tunisia’s powerful General Labor Union UGTT union and two political parties have rejected an invitation to discuss the political crisis with a U.S. congressional delegation visiting Tunisia, saying they refuse any foreign interference in local crisis.
“Our Tunisian affair should be resolved only among Tunisians, UGTT union will not participate in the invitation of the American embassy”, said Sami Tahri, the spokesman of UGTT union, a key player in Tunisia’s political scene.
He added that UGTT did not accept the bullying of foreigners in the time of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and “will not accept it today and tomorrow”.
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy leads a congressional delegation to discuss the developments in Tunisia in a visit on Saturday, after President Kais Saied’s seizure of governing powers in July in a move critics called a coup.
Saied dismissed on July 25 his prime minister, froze parliament and assumed executive authority in a sudden intervention that his opponents have labeled a coup but that he said was necessary to save the country from collapse. Last week, the exceptional measures were indefinitely extended.
Saied’s delay in appointing a new government or announcing his longer-term plans has caused jitters among some Tunisians fearing a lack of direction in the face of major economic challenges or even a return to autocracy.
The U.S. delegation, which visits Tunisia as part of a regional visit that included Lebanon, the occupied territories and the West Bank, will discuss with officials and politicians the crisis in Tunisia.
The country’s Free Constitutional Party, led by Abir Moussi and a supporter of Ben Ali -- toppled in the 2011 revolution – as well as the Achaab Party – allied with Saied – also rejected the invitation to hold talks with the American delegation, saying there is no way to accept any interference in local crisis.
Saied dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspended parliament for 30 days in July, following mass protests in several cities against the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tunisia’s biggest political party Ennahda denounced the move as “arbitrary” and “unjustified”.
Saied has said he would assume executive authority “with the help” of a government whose new chief he would personally appoint.