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Bin Salman limits his visit to Tunisia to only a meeting with Essebsi

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman (2nd L) takes his seat to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and his delegation on 19 April, 2017 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images]
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 19 April, 2017 [Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has arrived in the Tunisian capital Tunis on Tuesday afternoon. While officials have not disclosed its details and program, the visit comes amid popular demonstrations and campaigns rejecting it.

According to well-informed sources about the details of the visit, Anadolu Agency said that bin Salman will only meet with President Beji Caid Essebsi in Tunis, after arriving at 3 p.m. in Tunisia's local time.

According to previous statements by Saida Qarash, the spokesperson of the Tunisian government, the visit comes at the request of bin Salman himself.

The demonstrators accuse bin Salman of involvement in the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The centre of the Tunisian capital has been witnessing protests against the visit of bin Salman. Since Monday, civil rights activists, politicians, and students have been organising protests in the capital in rejection of bin Salman's visit. In addition, Tunisian lawyers have filed a case to prevent this visit while political parties, student organisations, human rights organisations and trade unions in Tunisia have issued statements rejecting the visit.

Read: Hundreds of Tunisians demonstrate over MBS visit

The protesters have raised slogans including:

  • "People, citizens… Tunisia is not for sale," "
  • The people want to expel bin Salman,"
  • "We do not welcome the murderer of the children of Yemen,"
  • "The people want to criminalise normalisation."

Similarly, protesters raised the flags of Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Egypt, and Palestine.

The protest march, called upon by civil organisations and parties, including Al-Irada Movement Party, the Republican Party, and the National Commission for Supporting Arab Resistance and Opposing Normalization and Zionism – an independent organization – has started in front of the statue of Ibn Khaldoun in the centre of the capital and continued throughout Avenue Habib Bourguiba.

Since last Thursday, bin Salman has visited the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt as part of his first external visits after the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, 59, inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in early October.

Saudi Arabia has been facing a major international crisis since it announced on 20 October that Khashoggi was assassinated in its consulate in Istanbul after 18 days of denial. Riyadh had presented conflicting stories about his death before it admitted killing him and dismembering Khashoggi's body following the failure of "negotiations" to persuade him to return to the kingdom.

AfricaBahrainEgyptMiddle EastNewsSaudi ArabiaTunisiaUAEYemen
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