Tunisia’s president has sacked the PM and suspended parliament, after violent mass protests nationwide on Sunday.
Anger over the government’s handling of a massive recent spike in Covid cases has added to general unrest over the nation’s economic and social turmoil.
President Kais Saied, who was elected in 2019, announced he was taking over.
His supporters erupted in celebration, but opponents in parliament immediately accused him of staging a coup. Clashes among rival groups continued on Monday.
They threw stones at each other outside the legislature, which has been barricaded by troops, who have also prevented workers from entering some government buildings.
Mr Saied, an independent, has had a long-standing feud with the man he has removed, PM Hichem Mechichi. Mr Mechichi has the backing of the largest party in parliament, Ennahda.
Tunisia’s revolution in 2011 is often held up as the sole success of the Arab Spring revolts across the region, but it has not led to stability economically or politically.
The recent coronavirus surge has fuelled long-standing public frustration. The health minister was sacked last week after a bungled vaccination drive.
On Sunday thousands of people across Tunisia demonstrated against the PM and Ennahda, the moderate Islamist ruling party.
Its local headquarters in the south-western city of Touzeur were set on fire.
One protester in Tunis, Lamia Meftahi, told Reuters news agency this was “the happiest moment since the revolution”.