Whether their aim was to discredit an enemy, spread false rumors, or stir up fear and move people to action, such accusations recall some of the worst scenarios that have played out in the region’s recent history. Ben Ali’s 1987 coup d’etat feeds into such speculations. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s putsch in Egypt (2013) and the aborted coup d’etat against Erdogan (2016) have made Islamists and their allies particularly wary.

Timeline of « Coup d’Etat » Accusations in Tunisia

  • 2021
  • 25 July 2021

    President Kais Saied decided to freeze Parliament’s activities, remove deputies’ immunity and relieve Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi of his duties. A number of constitutional experts described these initiatives as a constitutional coup d’etat: the president’s actions were based on the Constitution’s Article 80 which does not stipulate freezing the activities of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP), and requires the head of state to consult with the prime minister and president of the ARP.
  • 23 May 2021

    The media outlet Middle East Eye, known for its pro-Qatar stance, published a purportedly « top secret » document that was attributed to the advisors of President Saied. The « authors » of the leaked document urge the president to enforce the provisions of Article 80 which foresees exceptional measures in case of « imminent peril ». In a previous article published on 22 April 2021, the same outlet evoked Tunisians’ concerns about a probable coup d’etat by President Saied, the sole basis of that report being a statement by Nejib Chebbi with regards to a speech the president had made.
  • 2019
  • 27 June 2019

    Former ARP president Mohamed Ennaceur, in his book « Two Republics, One Tunisia », alludes to an attempted coup d’etat at a time when President Beji Caid Essebsi’s health was declining. According to Ennaceur, parliamentary deputies from Ennahdha and Tahya Tounes had tried to hold an extraordinary ARP meeting to affirm the president’s death. After receiving a call from his chief of staff, Ennaceur showed up to preside over the meeting (although he was physically unfit to do so at the time) in order to put an end to the planned « coup d’etat ». Abdelkarim Zbidi, former presidential candidate and former Minister of Defense, had made ready for the deployment of two tanks at parliament’s two entrance gates « with the objective of deterring the intended coup d’etat » that was, according to him, unfolding there.
  • 11 June 2019

    On French radio station Europe 1, presidential candidate Nabil Karoui characterized an electoral law amendment submitted to the full Parliament session as a “political, institutional and moral” coup d’etat.
  • 2018
  • 4 September 2018

    Nidaa Tounes leader Khaled Chouket announced on Diwan FM that chaos threatened to provoke a military coup d’etat. According to Chouket, the political crisis, populism and irresponsibility of political actors risked pushing the country to take a leap into the unknown, or to endure a military coup d’etat. The statement was made following the political crisis between Nidaa Tounes and Youssef Chahed (Nidaa withdrawing from parliament and the alliance between UPL and Nidaa).

  • 3 August 2018

    In an article entitled « Tunisia: The disillusionment of Lotfi Brahem », the editor-in-chief of « Mondafrique », Nicolas Beau, mentioned that former Interior Minister Lotfi Brahem was implicated in an attempted coup d’etat. Beau reported that Brahem had met with the head of Emirati secret services to plan Youssef Chahed’s political isolation and Kamel Morjane’s appointment as head of government.
  • 22 November 2018

    Slim Riahi filed a lawsuit against Youssef Chahed for an attempted coup d’etat. Former secretary general of Nidaa Tounes, Riahi accused then prime minister Chahed of having committed a parliamentary coup d’etat after creating a bloc whose majority of elected deputies were affiliated with Nidaa Tounes lists. According to Riahi, in the event this « soft » coup d’etat failed, Chahed planned to tun to the armed forces.
  • 4 April 2018

    Ali Bennour, an Afek Tounes deputy at the time, stated on Jawhara FM that he wished for a military coup d’etat because he was « fed up » with the failure of political parties and the « atmosphere of impunity » which required a « shock » for the people to rise up.
  • 2013
  • July-September 2013

    Following the assassinations of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, the Errahil sit-in staged in Bardo called for dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) and resignation of the Ennahdha government. These demands were supported by political actors and deputies within the opposition.
    Former president Moncef Marzouki considered that these demands represented an attempted coup d’etat against the legitimacy and institutions of democratic transition, while refusing to name the authors of the attempted coup.