With Gatherings Banned Amid Turmoil, Tunisians Can Only Watch. And Wait.

Of the rest of government, Parliament and its dominant political party, Ennahda, she said: “They gave nothing to Tunisia for 10 years. They don’t deserve the power they got.”

Her mother, Aisha Mouelhi, 53, who works for the ministry of social affairs, was less sanguine.

“Everything is obscure now,” she said. “We hope that what he did is good, but after this, what will happen?”

Mr. Saied said on Sunday night that he intended to appoint a new government within 30 days, and on Tuesday, in a meeting with civil society representatives including Tunisia’s powerful trade union federation, the president reiterated that the measures were temporary. To those who have accused him of executing a coup, he pointed to Article 80 of the 2014 Constitution, which grants the president extraordinary powers in cases of “imminent threat” to the country.

“I’m surprised by how some people are talking about a coup,” he said in the meeting, a video of which was posted on his official Facebook page, noting that he himself had studied law. “I don’t know in which law faculty they studied.”

Mr. Saied’s opponents, led by the Parliament speaker, Rachid al-Ghannouchi of Ennahda, a moderate Islamist party, have argued that Mr. Saied failed to meet the conditions of Article 80. He has said he met with Mr. al-Ghannouchi and the former prime minister, Hichem Mechichi, before moving to seize power, as required by Article 80; Mr. al-Ghannouchi denied having been consulted.

But for all his talk of his law degree, Mr. Saied is making a political, not a constitutional, argument: Someone had to step in to save the country.


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