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Tunisia: protest rejects President's policies and demands release of detainees

A wave of arrests targeting politicians, journalists, activists, judges, and business people has been occurring in Tunisia since February 11.

June 19, 2023 at 9:44 am

Hundreds of Tunisians staged a demonstration in the capital, Tunis, yesterday to express their rejection of President Kais Saied’s policies and demand the release of detained political figures.

According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent, the protesters gathered for a rally on Habib Bourguiba Street following a from the National Salvation Front. They raised banners with slogans such as “National unity against populist attacks”.

During the demonstration, Ahmed Najib Chebbi, the leader of the National Salvation Front, said in a speech: “The government is unable to procure essential supplies and medicine, which is the cause of scarcity in basic commodities.”

“Citizens are suffering from the high cost of living and shortages of essential goods.”

READ: Tunisia: political detainees on hunger strike

Chebbi considered Saied’s speech against the reforms proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) “ambiguous”.

Chebbi pointed out that “the National Salvation Front is in favour of a fair settlement with the IMF, which includes economic reforms without sacrificing employee wages.”

The Tunisian authorities did not issue any comments regarding these statements. On previous occasions, Saied has expressed his rejection of what he called “dictations” from the IMF, emphasising the necessity for Tunisians to rely on themselves.

Negotiations between Tunisia and the IMF for a $1.9 billion loan over four years stalled in October 2022. The loan is conditional on Tunisia engaging in an economic reform programme, which includes reducing energy and food subsidies, cutting public wages and restructuring state-owned companies.

Since 11 February, Tunisia has witnessed a wave of arrests targeting politicians, journalists, activists, judges and business people.

President Saied denies these are politically motivated arrests and accuses some detainees of “conspiring against national security and being behind the crises of commodity distribution and price hikes.”

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