Tunisia’s president rules out early elections after dissolving parliament

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Tunisia’s parliamentary elections won’t be held within the next three months, President Kais Saied said late on Thursday during a meeting with Prime Minister Najla Bouden, according to a Facebook post by the president’s office.

Saied issued a decree on Wednesday dissolving parliament, which has been suspended since last year after it defied him by voting to repeal decrees that he used to assume near total power.

The Free Constitutional Party, an opposition party that polls project would be the biggest in parliament if elections were held, urged Saied to call early elections following the dissolution of parliament.

Abir Moussi, the party head and a supporter of late autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, said that Saied has no choice, according to the constitution, and should call elections within three months.

“I don’t know how they get this interpretation” Saied said on Thursday, referring to article 89 of the constitution.

He has previously said he will form a committee to rewrite the constitution, put it to a referendum in July then hold parliamentary elections in December.

Tunisia’s main opposition party, the Islamist Ennahda, rejects Saied’s move to dissolve parliament and will boycott any referendum he calls to restructure the political system unilaterally, its leader, Rached Ghannouchi, said earlier on Thursday.

Saied’s opponents accuse him of a coup when he suspended the chamber last summer, brushed aside most of the 2014 constitution and moved to rule by decree as he set about remaking the political system.

Tunisia’s 2014 constitution says the parliament must remain in session during any exceptional period of the kind announced by Saied last summer and that dissolving the chamber should trigger a new election, though he has not yet announced one.