Several hundred opposition leaders and supporters gathered, on Tuesday, in the center of the capital, Tunis, amid a sweltering heat wave. In a joint protest, the political forces in parliament are now dissolved two years ago Tunisian President Kais Said They demanded the release of more than twenty politicians, judges or critical journalists detained since last February. The opposition, which has regrouped under the umbrella of the National Salvation Front, is also trying to coordinate to stand up to Saied with one candidate who has ruled by decree since the 2021 self-coup in the presidential elections next year.
“Down with the coup!”, “Freedom for the prisoners!” Some of the slogans chanted by protesters were in the midst of the sweltering heat, with temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius in the North African country, according to AFP. The wave of repression unleashed against dissent has diminished protests against the president’s authoritarian drift in recent months. Dozens of dissidents have been imprisoned, branded without charge as terrorists in the shadow of obscurity Charged with “assaulting state security”. They include Rachid Ganouchi, 81, former speaker of the Legislative Council and leader of the Islamist Ennahda Movement, the largest party in the assembly that was shut down on July 25, 2021.
He warned that “President Said’s seizure of power has been strengthened through repression and imprisonment of opponents and critics of the regime, and under a judiciary that has been undermined.” Amnesty International In a report before the second anniversary of the dissolution of Parliament in Tunisia. The use of “fake accusations” to arrest opponents deprives Tunisians, according to the non-governmental organization defending human rights, of the freedoms they obtained in 2011, after the revolution that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali at the outbreak of the revolution. Arab Spring.
Ahmed Neeb Shabi, 74 years old national salvation front, He accused Saied of attacking “all state institutions, from the judiciary to parliament,” and from the media to trade unions, “and rejecting” all offers of political dialogue. “Tunisia is living under a hybrid model,” political analyst Tarek Galawef said in an interview with EL PAÍS, in which some electoral competition is expected in the presidential elections scheduled for December 2024, but the opposition coalition does not yet represent an alternative to Said.
Saied, who was elected with 72% of the vote in 2019, has a clear advantage in opinion polls to re-certify his mandate for another five years against an opposition bloc made up of parties discredited in public opinion after a decade of misrule and impoverishment of the country.
A 65-year-old constitutional law professor, practically unknown until his election in 2020, Saied enjoys wide powers after reforming the constitution, in a referendum approved by only 30% of voters, and reopening parliament, after Legislation about 90% of voters turned their backs on.
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Said also at odds with International Monetary Fund (IMF)On which the rescue plan relied to save Tunisia from bankruptcy since October last year. In exchange for a $1,900m (€1,720m) injection, the Tunisian government must cut subsidies on basic products – such as sugar, milk, coffee or oil – and liquidate monopolies in public sector companies.
The president rejects what is imposed by the Fund, which in turn paralyzed a 900 million euro aid program provided by the European Union to mitigate the effects of cuts in social assistance. despite of Criticism in the European Parliament Because of the president’s authoritarian drift, the European Commission chose to settle in Tunisia to avoid the avalanche of small boats from its shores, which have deposited more than 37,000 irregular migrants on the Italian coast so far this year.
It seems that Qais Said played the immigration card to consolidate his power. the EU trio consisting of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen; The Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, and the outgoing Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, met on the 16th in Tunis, to the principle of agreement on immigration matters, The North African country should stop small boats from reaching Europe via the central Mediterranean. Currently, the Memorandum of Understanding includes several financing areas totaling 300 million euros, to combat irregular migration, promote the digitization of the economy or develop sustainable energy sources.
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