Supporters of Tunisia's Free Constitutional Party try to remove barricades as they attempt to reach the headquarters of the Independent High Authority for Elections, during a protest against the upcoming referendum on a new constitution, in Tunis, Tunisia July 7, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Scuffles erupted between Tunisian security forces and protesters, who rallied in the capital Tunis against a referendum on a contested constitution due later this month, Tunisian media reported.

Tunisian President Qais Saied has called for the July 25 referendum on the draft constitution that the opposition said will expand presidential powers.

Protesters from the opposition Al Destour Al Hurr [Free Constitution] Party Thursday gathered outside an independent electoral agency tasked with preparing for the vote and called for scrapping the referendum, according to Tunisian media.

The protesters managed to remove some barriers outside the agency’s premises in an attempt to hold a sit-in, after pushing their way against security forces that later brought the situation under control, witnesses said. No injuries were reported.

During the melee, Abir Moussi, the head of Al Destour Al Hurr Party temporarily lost consciousness and was taken into an ambulance. Moussi is an outspoken critic of Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda movement and Saied.

“Tunisia is a civil state. Caliphate out. Ghannouchi [Ennahda leader] out. Qais out,” the 47-year-old politician shouted while lying inside the ambulance. Moussi was seen inside the ambulance covered with the Tunisian flag.

Last summer, Saied suspended the parliament and sacked the prime minister, measures the opposition described as a “coup” against the constitution adopted in 2014. Opposition groups have since staged a series of protests.

Saied, who took office in 2019, pledged to fight corruption, revamp the political system and safeguard freedoms.