Tunisian President Kais Saied had ordered a night-time curfew for the next month, a day after he suspended parliament.
He’s also sacked more government ministers in the wake of the dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi on Sunday.
The president has denied accusations by the biggest political party, Ennahdha, that he’s carried out a coup. He insisted he had acted according to the constitution.
Mr Saied urged people not to take to the streets to protest, saying the greatest danger was of an “internal explosion”.
The UN has expressed its concern about the developments saying “all disputes and disagreements should be resolved through dialogue”, a spokesperson for the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the Tunisian president “to adhere to the principles of democracy and human rights” and “maintain an open dialogue with all political actors”, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
There have been months of political tension in Tunisia, with frustration at the government’s handling of the pandemic and an economic crisis.
Tunisia health minister sacked as Covid cases surge
Meanwhile Tunisia’s Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi has been sacked as the country struggles to cope with surging numbers of coronavirus cases.
The disease has put the medical system under severe pressure, and there have been oxygen shortages at hospitals in several provinces. Earlier this month a health ministry spokesman described the situation as “catastrophic”.
A health ministry adviser and head of the Palais des Congrès vaccination centre in Tunis, Rafla Tej Dellagi, said the system was reaching breaking point.
“I don’t think we’ve reached the peak and the care system is in a critical state: not only are we at about 200 deaths per day… but also patients care services, hospitalisations, oxygen beds are currently at their maximum,” she said.
She said Tunisia needed to seriously ramp up its vaccination programme in order to help stem the spread of the virus: