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Tunisians are calling on President Kais to step down amid a crisis


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Thousands of opposition supporters in Tunisia took part in a demonstration in the capital to demand that President Kais Saied resign amid the ongoing economic crisis.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondents said that separate rallies of different opposition groups were organized in Tunis, with a heavy police presence.

These meetings, which took place on the twelfth anniversary of the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, came against a backdrop of deepening political divisions and deteriorating economic conditions in the North African country.

“The people want what you don’t want. Down with Said,” demonstrators at the main demonstration organized by Tunisia’s most prominent opposition force, the National Salvation Front, which includes Said’s enemy, the Islamist-inspired Ennahda movement, chanted. Ceremony.

Ennahda controlled parliament until Saied launched a major power grab on July 25, 2021, sacking the government and freezing parliament before appointing a new government and ruling by decree.

According to the government, Tunisians who largely supported Saied’s takeover in 2021 are increasingly fed up with soaring inflation and poverty, affecting about 20 percent of the country’s 12 million people.

“The coup brought us starvation and poverty. Yesterday, the grocer gave me only one kilo of pasta and a carton of milk,” said Noha, who participated in the main demonstration amid a shortage of basic commodities.

“How can I feed my family of 13 with that?” The 50-year-old housewife lamented.

Protesters at a separate left-wing rally not far away denounced Said’s “authoritarian drift”, which threatens the only democracy that emerged from the Arab Spring revolutions.

Some chanted slogans echoing the messages of the 2011 uprising and demanded “work,” AFP reporters reported, as the unemployment rate exceeds 15 percent.

Unbearable shortage

Omar, 27, an unemployed Said supporter at the main rally of the National Salvation Front, said the president had “betrayed” Tunisians.

“And this is the result: an economic crisis, an intolerable shortage, and no milk in our refrigerators,” said Omar, who asked that only his first name be used.

While the cash-strapped state of Tunisia, which has a monopoly on some imports, struggled to bring in basic commodities, Tunisians experienced shortages of produce, including coffee, milk and sugar.

Struggling with debts estimated at around 80 percent of its gross domestic product, Tunisia reached a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund in mid-October on a bailout package worth about $2 billion, but it is still awaiting final approval.

Another rally on Saturday, attended by hundreds of people, was led by Abeer Moussa of the opposition Free Constitution Party.

Moussa told the crowd that the “Saïd regime” was responsible for the economic crisis, calling for his resignation.

Said 2019, a former law professor and political outsider, became the second democratically elected president of Tunisia since Ben Ali was overthrown.

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