Tunisian Saied tells French Macron that a national dialogue will take place soon

Tunisian President Kais Saied is sworn in in Tunis, Tunisia, October 23, 2019. REUTERS / Zoubeir Souissi

PARIS, October 2 (Reuters) – Tunisian President Kais Saied told French President Emmanuel Macron that a national dialogue would take place soon, Macron’s office said on Saturday after speaking by phone.

Saied’s mention of a dialogue would be his first indication since taking over executive power in July that he is ready to consult more widely on the search for a way out of the crisis.

He suspended the elected parliament, dismissed much of the 2014 constitution, gave himself the power to legislate by decree, appointed a new prime minister and said he would form a committee to amend the constitution.

“Saied indicated that the government would be formed in the coming days and that a national dialogue would be launched in its wake,” Macron’s Élysée department said.

A statement from Saied’s office after the call did not mention any plans for dialogue – an idea that was pushed by other major players in Tunisian politics to resolve the crisis.

Saied’s intervention called into question Tunisia’s democratic gains since its 2011 revolution which triggered the Arab Spring.

The powerful UGTT union and the main parties in the suspended parliament have all urged Saied to engage them in dialogue on the Tunisian constitution and political system.

Although Saied’s intervention seemed popular after years of economic stagnation and political paralysis, opposition to it grew over the next two months without a clear roadmap to ending the crisis.

Saied on Wednesday appointed Najla Bouden Romdhane as prime minister and asked her to quickly form a cabinet, but she should have less power than previous heads of government.

Tunisia faces a looming public finance crisis and talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout were halted when Saied sacked the previous government in July.

Report by Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris and Tarek Amara in Tunis; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Catherine Evans and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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