White House says concerned about developments in Tunisia, urges calm

Security personnel keep guard around a vehicle carrying Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi as his supporters gather outside the parliament building in Tunis, Tunisia July 26, 2021. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is concerned about developments in Tunisia and urged calm in the country, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday, adding the United States is in touch with senior Tunisian leaders.

Tunisia's young democracy faces its worst crisis in a decade on Monday after President Kais Saied ousted the government and suspended parliament with help from the army, a move condemned as a coup by the main parties, including Islamists.

His action followed months of deadlock and disputes pitting him against Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and a fragmented parliament as Tunisia descended into an economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are concerned about the developments in Tunisia," Psaki said at a news briefing.

"We are in touch at a senior level from both the White House and the State Department with Tunisian leaders to learn more about the situation, urge calm and support Tunisian efforts to move forward in line with democratic principles," she added.

Psaki said the White House has not made a determination on whether it was a coup, adding that it was looking to the U.S. State Department to conduct a legal analysis before making a determination.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Doina Chiacu; Writing by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chris Reese and Aurora Ellis)

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