Tunisia’s powerful UGTT union and two political parties turned down an invitation to discuss the political crisis with a US congressional team visiting Tunisia on Friday, saying they oppose foreign intervention in domestic affairs.
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy will lead a congressional delegation to discuss the path forward to protect democracy 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 Islamist opponents have labelled a coup but that he said was necessary to save the country from collapse. Last week, the exceptional measures were indefinitely extended.
The president’s actions appear to have widespread support after years of economic stagnation and political paralysis.
However, 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 will visit Tunisia as part of a regional visit that included Lebanon, Israel and the West Bank, will discuss with officials and politicians the crisis in Tunisia.
“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.”
The Free Constitutional party led by Abir Moussi, a supporter of former President Ben Ali overthrown by the 2011 revolution, and Achaab party close to Saied also rejected the invitation saying that no way to accept any interference in local crisis.