All Tunisia’s political parties have been banned from entering state television buildings and taking part in talk shows, the head of the country’s journalists’ syndicate said today, describing the ruling as a serious setback for press freedom.

Mehdi Jlassi told Reuters this was the first time such a ban had been imposed since the 2011 revolution that ended the autocratic rule of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Government and state television officials were not immediately available for comment.

On 25 July, Tunisian President Kais Saied cited Article 80 of the constitution to dismiss Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi, freeze the work of parliament for 30 days, lift the immunity of ministers, and appoint himself as head of the executive authority until the formation of a new government.

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This comes after violent protests broke out in several Tunisian cities criticising the government’s handling of the economy and the coronavirus. Demonstrators had called for parliament to be dissolved.

He appointed a prime minister on 29 September and a government has since been formed. Last month, Saied announced that a referendum will be held on 25 July to consider ‘constitutional reforms’ and elections would follow in December 2022. However, opposition leaders remain under house arrest.

The majority of the country’s political parties slammed the move as a “coup against the constitution” and the achievements of the 2011 revolution.

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