Five weeks after their president seized governing powers and a week after he indefinitely prolonged emergency measures, Tunisians are increasingly puzzled at his silence on the biggest crisis of their democratic era.
Though President Kais Saied has spoken regularly on issues ranging from potato prices to corruption in videos of meetings that his office posts online, he has yet to name a new prime minister or say how he plans to rule.
“We have great confidence in the president,” said Samira Salmi, a clothes vendor in Tunis, before adding: “But frankly his programme has been delayed a lot…We want quick answers.”
Saied’s next steps will determine whether his intervention, called a coup by critics but widely supported by a populace weary of paralysis and economic decline, will ultimately be regarded as a democratic reset or a gateway back to autocracy.
Both ordinary Tunisians and the political class widely expect him to change the constitution to give the presidency more powers after he suspended parliament.
The existing constitution, agreed in 2014 as a messy compromise at a tense moment of polarisation after the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy, has long been unpopular. Most candidates in the 2019 election, including Saied, said they wanted to amend it.
However, Saied has given no public statement about what any new constitution would look like, whether he will dissolve the now suspended parliament or how long he expects the emergency period to last.