SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 27 October 2021, Wednesday |

Thousands protest against Tunisia leader with government awaited

Thousands of Tunisians demonstrated against President Kais Saied’s seizure of almost total authorities protested in the capital on Sunday as the increasing numbers taking to the street in recent weeks has raised the risk of the political crisis unleashing unrest.

A week after thousands protested in support of Saied, the growing numbers raise the possibility of Tunisia’s political divisions spiraling into street confrontations between rival camps.

“We will not accept the coup. Enough is enough,” said Yassin ben Amor, a protester.

A very heavy police presence halted any march down Habib Bourguiba Avenue in central Tunis, but despite some protesters throwing plastic bottles there were no clashes.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Hayouni said the police would deal with protesters from both sides in the same way. “The Tunisian police is republican police and it does not interfere in any political side,” he said.

Saied dismissed the prime minister, suspended parliament and assumed executive authority in July in moves his foes call a coup. Last month he brushed aside much of the constitution, which he said he would appoint a committee to amend, adding that he could rule by decree.

His intervention appeared popular after years of economic stagnation and political paralysis, but it has cast into doubt the democratic gains made by Tunisians during a 2011 revolution that triggered the Arab Spring uprisings.

With the political manoeuvering over Tunisia’s future moving very slowly, Saied has pointed to the street mobilisation to support his position.

Last week more than 8,000 demonstrators rallied in Tunis in support of Saied, Reuters journalists and the state news agency said. The next day, Saied said 1.8 million people had come out to back him.