Kais Saied plans to transform Tunisia. It may go bust first

The president rules by decree as the economy seizes up

Before he sent a tank to bar the doors of parliament, Kais Saied was a law professor who preached fealty to the constitution. It may seem a contradiction, but contradictions helped propel Mr Saied (pictured) to the Tunisian presidency in 2019. He was a populist with a patrician manner, a self-styled democrat who disdained political parties and parliamentary elections. Some dubbed him Robocop, for his demeanour and conservative views; others saw Robespierre sharpening his guillotine.

On September 22nd Mr Saied said he would suspend much of the constitution and rule by decree. This codifies a power grab that began in July, when he assumed emergency powers. Parliament will remain frozen and its members denied their salaries. At some point, Mr Saied says, he will amend the constitution and change the political system. Until then it is less Jacobin, more Sun King

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