Tunisia's Saied tells France's Macron a national dialogue will take place soon


FILE PHOTO: Tunisian President Kais Saied takes the oath of office in Tunis, Tunisia, October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

PARIS (Reuters) - Tunisian President Kais Saied told French President Emmanuel Macron that a national dialogue would take place soon, Macron's office said on Saturday after they spoke by phone.

Saied's mention of a dialogue would be his first indication since seizing executive power in July that he is ready to consult more widely on finding a way out of the crisis.

He has suspended the elected parliament, brushed aside much of the 2014 constitution, given himself powers to legislate by decree, appointed a new prime minister and said he will form a committee to amend the constitution.

"Saied indicated that the government would be formed in the coming days and that a national dialogue would be launched in its wake," Macron's Elysee department said.

A statement by Saied's office after the call did not mention any plans for a dialogue - an idea that has been pushed by other major players in Tunisian politics to resolve the crisis.

Saied's intervention has called into question Tunisia's democratic gains since its 2011 revolution that triggered the Arab spring.

The powerful labour union UGTT and major parties in the suspended parliament have all urged Saied to bring them into a dialogue about Tunisia's constitution and political system.

Although Saied's intervention appeared popular after years of economic stagnation and political paralysis, opposition to it has grown in the two months since with no clear roadmap to end the crisis.

Saied on Wednesday appointed Najla Bouden Romdhane as prime minister and asked her to form a cabinet quickly, but she is expected to have fewer powers than previous heads of government.

Tunisia faces a looming crisis in public finances and talks with the International Monetary Fund for a rescue package stopped when Saied dismissed the previous government in July.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris and Tarek Amara in Tunis; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Catherine Evans and Daniel Wallis)

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