Tunisian prime minister was assaulted in palace before coup

Tunisian prime minister was assaulted in palace before coup

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A source close to the Prime Minister of Tunisia told Middle East Eye that the outgoing Prime Minister of Tunisia, Hichem Mecic, was personally attacked at the Presidential Palace on Sunday night, and he agreed to resign.

Since Mechichi himself did not appear in public, it is impossible to confirm the nature of his injuries.

MEE understands that the injuries the 47-year-old sustained were “significant”, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

“He had injuries to the face, which is why he has not appeared [in public],” one of the sources said.

Mechichi was summoned to the presidential palace on Sunday where President Kais Saied sacked him from his post, announced the suspension of parliament and assumed executive authority following a day of tense anti-government protests.

A source close to the prime minister made it clear to MEE that the security chief who would accompany him to the palace was not in the plan, but the army was.

Rached Ghannouchi is the speaker and leader of the Baath Party, a moderate Islamic party in Tunisia. He has not been summoned because he has just been discharged from the hospital and is receiving Covid-19 treatment.

According to sources, Saeed’s chosen prime minister, Mecic, was asked to step down again on Sunday.

Prior to that, he had repeatedly refused to resign consecutively, which broke out by appointing four ministers in his government.

The source said that when Mechichi refused, he was beaten. MEE further learned that there were “non-Tunisians” in the palace at that time.

MEE learned that the people present were Egyptian security officials who had been advising Said before the coup and guiding actions when the coup happened. It is unclear what role they played in Mechichi’s interrogation.

“[Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-] Sisi offered to give Saied all the support he needed for the coup and Saied took it,” one of the sources said.

“Egyptian military and security people were sent to Tunisia with the full support of MbZ [Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi],” the source added.

Mechichi is then reported to have held his hands up and agreed to resign. At that point, his security chiefs also agreed to the president’s statement. 

Mechichi later returned home where he denied reports to local media that he was under house arrest.

The outgoing prime minister issued a statement on Monday in which he said he could not be “in any way a disruptive element or part of the problem that complicates Tunisia’s situation”.

“I will hand over the responsibility to the person who will be entrusted by the President of the Republic to head the government within the year of deliberation that our country has been following since the revolution and in respect of the laws that befit the state, wishing all the success to the new government team,” the statement read.

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