WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington on Thursday accused Tunisian President Kais Saied of undermining the country’s democratic institutions after he sacked dozens of judges amid a series of moves that appeared designed to consolidate one-man power.

Saied, who also replaced the independent electoral commission and said he would present a new constitution this month, accused the judges of corruption and protecting terrorists in a televised speech on Wednesday.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the purge was part of “an alarming set of measures that have undermined Tunisia’s independent democratic institutions”.

U.S. officials have communicated with their Tunisian counterparts the importance of checks and balances in a democratic system, Price said at a regular press briefing.

“We continue to urge the Tunisian government to pursue an inclusive and transparent reform process with input from civil society and diverse political voices to enhance the legitimacy of reform efforts,” Price said.

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(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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