Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has been accused of misleading the public following his claim that 1.8 million people took part in rallies in his support on Sunday.

“Yesterday was a historic day with about 1.8 million taking to the street,” said Saied in an online video of his meeting with the prime minister who he has chosen. “The people gave their word… We will not disappoint Tunisians.”

According to Reuters, however, the number at the main pro-Saied rally in central Tunis was significantly lower. Journalists said that just over 8,000 people had been present. The 8,000 figure was also mentioned by the state-owned TAP news agency. Several thousand other demonstrators also rallied in the south-east town of Sfax and in each of several other cities according to witnesses and local media.

Demonstrators in the pro-Saied rally chanted slogans and carried banners proclaiming that the “People are overthrowing the corrupt system”. They called for “No to return to the parliamentary system” because it “destroys our hopes and dreams”.

On 25 July, Saied ousted the government, suspended parliament and assumed executive authority. Critics have slammed his “exceptional measures” to “save the country” as a shameful power grab and a “coup against the constitution”.

The majority of parties in Tunisia reject Saied’s moves. Others, however, think his decisions are correct in light of the political, economic and health crises in the country.

READ: Where is Tunisia heading? 

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