The Tunisian president has fired the prime minister and suspended parliament, following a series of violent protests across the country on Sunday.
Anger over the government’s handling of the recent large number of cases in Covid’s cases has added to the general turmoil due to economic and social unrest.
President Kais Saied, who was elected in 2019, has announced his resignation.
His supporters erupted in cheers, but opponents of parliament quickly accused him of plotting to overthrow the government.
Mr Saied, an independent, has been at loggerheads with the man he removed, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi. Mr Mechichi was backed by the largest parliamentary party, Ennahda.
The Tunisian revolution in 2011 is often cited as one of the successes of the Arab Spring uprising across the region, but it has not led to economic or political stability.
Recent coronavirus outbreaks have exacerbated long-standing social anxiety. The Minister of Health was fired last week after a football-vaccinated campaign.
Statesman or dictator opposed?
On Sunday, thousands of people across Tunisia protested against the Prime Minister and Ennahda, the ruling Islamist party.
Security forces in the capital, Tunis, have blocked parliament and the roads around Avenue Bourguiba. Protesters stormed the offices of Ennahda, smashed computers and set fire to the local capital southwest of Touzeur.
One of the protesters in Tunis, Lamia Meftahi, told Reuters that this was “the happiest time since the revolution”.
A Gafsa resident told Agence France-Presse that the President had “proved himself to be a state official”, but a second resident said: “These idiots are celebrating the birth of a new dictator.”
The controversy continued until Monday morning, as the Speaker of Parliament, Rached Ghannouchi, who leads Ennahda, was trying to enter the legislature in Tunis.
Obstructed by those who supported Mr Saied’s action, he responded with a sit-down protest with his loyalists. Both sides threw stones at each other.
Later on Monday, Al Jazeera TV, which was considered sympathetic to Ennahda, said security forces raided its Tunis offices, removed all equipment and ordered workers to leave.
On Sunday, speaking on television, Mr Saied said: “We have taken these decisions . until civil peace returns to Tunisia and we even save the state.”
He later joined the celebrating crowd in Tunis.
President Saied has also promised to address the ongoing violence by the military.
“I warn anyone who thinks of using weapons … and anyone who shoots bullets, the soldiers will respond with bullets,” he said.