US urges Tunisia to return to 'democratic path'

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Tunisia should swiftly return to its "democratic path", a top White House official on Saturday told President Kais Saied, days after his shock power grab that included suspending parliament.

In an hour-long call with Saied, President Joe Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan noted support for "Tunisian democracy based on fundamental rights, strong institutions and a commitment to the rule of law", according to a White House statement.

Saied on 25 July sacked premier Hichem Mechichi and suspended parliament for 30 days. He ordered a graft crackdown targeting 460 businessmen and an investigation into alleged illegal funding of political parties.

The president's surprise move has plunged Tunisia into political turmoil.

READ | Tunisian president says he will not become a dictator after MP arrest

The US statement said the call "focused on the critical need for Tunisian leaders to outline a swift return to Tunisia's democratic path".

"This will require rapidly forming a new government, led by a capable prime minister to stabilize Tunisia's economy and confront the Covid-19 pandemic," it added.

On top of the political turmoil, the North African nation is beset by a crippling economic crisis marked by soaring inflation and high unemployment, as well as surging Covid-19 infections.


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