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Tunisian protesters denounce ‘coup’, demand president steps down | Protests News

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Tunisian protesters

Thousands have protested in Tunis, denouncing President Said’s seizure of power and demanding accountability for the economic crisis.

Thousands of Tunisians have demonstrated in the capital Tunis, denouncing President Kais Said’s move to consolidate political power and demanding accountability for the country’s long-running economic crisis.

Ennada and Liberal Constitutional Party supporters held parallel rallies on Saturday in neighboring areas of the capital Tunis, accusing Said of mismanagement of the economy and an anti-democratic coup.

Protesters in the city center chanted “down, down,” “revolution against dictator Qais,” and “the coup will collapse,” AFP news agency reported.

“Tunisia is bleeding. Said is a failed dictator. He has set us back for years. Game over. Get out,” protester Henda Ben Ali told Reuters. told communications.

Ali Larayed, a former Tunisian prime minister and senior Ennaada official, told AFP that the protests showed “anger over the situation under Qais Said.” “We are telling him to leave.”

Said, who transitioned to rule by decree after closing parliament last year and expanding his powers with a new constitution passed in a referendum in July, is a necessary step to save Tunisia from years of crisis. I said yes.

In Saturday’s speech marking the withdrawal of French troops following Tunisia’s 1956 independence, he called for today’s withdrawal of “everyone who wants to undermine independence” – a clear statement to his political opponents. a hint.

Said’s opponents say his actions ousted longtime leader Zin El Abidin Ben Ali in 2011 and undermined the democracy secured through the revolution that sparked the Arab Spring. .

A supporter of the Free Destourian Party in Tunisia holds up a placard written in Arabic. "The country is bankrupt and the government is dysfunctional"During a demonstration against President Qais Said in the capital Tunis on October 15, 2022.  (Photo by FETHI BELAID/AFP)
A supporter of the Tunisian Free Destourian Party holds up a placard that reads in Arabic, “The country is bankrupt and the government is dysfunctional,” in the capital Tunis. [Fethi Belaid/AFP]

Economic conditions worsened by supply shortages after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February have unsettled many in the North African country of 12 million people.

If Said stays, “Tunisia has no future,” said Larayed, citing rising despair, poverty and unemployment.

Freelance journalist Elizia Volkmann told Al Jazeera that Tunisia was seeing a “severe food shortage”.

“When I walk into a supermarket, I can’t help but see a gaping hole in the goods. There are entire shelves lacking milk, sugar or rice. There’s a rationing here.” said Volkmann.

“What we are seeing is a huge impact on the middle class.

“But certainly people in rural areas are not very interested in political issues. [Tunisia] It should be a democracy… All they really care about is putting bread on the table, eating it, and having access to water. ”

About 1,500 people took part in the Ennada-led demonstration, while about 1,000 took part in the Liberal Constitutional Party protests, the interior ministry told AFP.

In public, Said claimed he was trying to “correct” the economic problems inherited from Tunisia’s post-Ben Ali leader.

Cash-strapped Tunisia is in talks with the International Monetary Fund about a $2 billion rescue loan.

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