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Tunisia: Between the unlikely and the uncertain future | Stories

Tunisia, Tunisia – Political parties and civil society groups continue to oppose the “rule” of President Kais Saied, demanding the right to choose their country’s future through economic hardship.

Hundreds of Tunisians gathered in the capital on Friday to celebrate 11 years of riots that toppled former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in defiance of a public rallying ban imposed by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The ban came just two days before the protests, which were held by major political parties and opposition groups. special methods President Saied took over on July 25 – a protest by protesters to block the protests.

For what was the day of the Revolution until last year – which is now officially celebrated on December 17 as claimed by the President – the military. protesters gathered in various locations passing through central Tunis after security forces closed all major roads leading to Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the landmark of the 2011 Revolution.

Despite widespread police presence, the country’s major political parties, civil society, lawmakers, lawyers, and human rights activists staged a series of protests.

“Politicians are trying to say they are in the public domain to oppose the President’s intentions,” Tarek Kahlaoui, a Tunisian political analyst, told Al Jazeera following Friday’s protests.

On Mohamed V Road, members of the Islamist Ennahdha party rallied with the Citizens against the Coup campaign.

The Ennahdha faction, which had the largest seats in the now-cold parliament, has been leading opposition parties to the Saied parliamentary suspension, seizure of power, and a desire to change the country’s constitution. call for seizure. This was confirmed by an order of the President on September 22.

“We are not prepared to go back to totalitarian rule, to be under the control of one person or one party,” Ennahdha’s senior member Gafsi, who did not give his real name, told Al Jazeera at the meeting. meeting of Mohamed V.

“We will not relinquish the political freedoms we have gained from terrorists,” he added, criticizing Saied’s powers in decision-making and directing judges.

Mr Gafsi accepted his party’s call for a comprehensive dialogue on the country’s resumption of democracy and a one-size-fits-all approach, saying it was the only way to resolve political disputes.

“The shortcut to getting out of this predicament is a return to democracy,” Montassar protester said in a statement. “Evolution is happening, we continue to move slowly but surely.”

The Citizens Against the Coup initiative, which includes members and supporters of the Ennahdha party as well as politicians and human rights activists, announced that they would hold a series of demonstrations from December 17 to January 14 demanding an end to the abuses and a return to democracy.

The group also called for a reshuffle in parliament, for the protection of the rule of law, for the preservation of human rights and freedoms, and for the establishment of a first and a presidential election.

Political analyst and law professor Jaouhar Ben Mbarek, who co-sponsored the anti-riot campaign, announced at a press conference on Thursday that the meetings were held to “create a united democratic state to fight terrorists”.

‘Authoritarian drift’

Ridha Belhaj, a lawyer and a member of the campaign’s executive committee, said after Friday’s rallies that the strong opposition to Saied elections, the availability of more security, and the brutal measures used against the protests would “change”.

“The biggest opposition will start to fight for power, especially as the economic and social crisis intensifies, the isolation of Kais Saied,” Belhaj said.

In recent days, the Citizens Against the Coup has been in talks with various political parties to establish a political party.

His plan is to return to the constitution and his aim is to resume parliamentary activity – even in the short term. This would lead to political changes such as changing the electoral law of the legislature, setting up a new court, and preparing for new elections, Belhaj explained.

At the same time, he continued, a global conflict with all the forces involved in the Tunisian people should be opened to discuss economic and social change.

Saied has repeatedly vowed to hold international talks in recent months, though he has not yet done so.

“The biggest problem since this change is the inconsistency between people’s economic needs, which have not been met to date, and the adherence to the neoliberal principles that lasted after 2011,” Belhaj said.

“Now is the time for the political party to reflect on the mistakes that have been made in the last 11 years and to move forward with the new ones.”

The Workers’ Party held its meeting outside the Central Bank to commemorate the day of evolution by figuratively choosing “continued criticism and The State of Najla Bouden of the same economic policy that has hurt the people and the country, ”said Secretary-General Hamma Hammami.

Standing outside the bank, Jawaher Channa, the party’s deputy leader, strongly opposed the coup d’état and the political restoration under the leadership of Ennahdha and its allies.

“The way out, as we can see, is to establish a progressive, flexible approach that can lead to the next phase,” Channa told Al Jazeera, pointing out that the focus should be on economic and social rights, where all governments have failed. so far.

A coalition of democratic parties, including Attayar (Democratic Current), Ettakatol (Democratic Forum for Labor and Freedoms), and Al Joumhouri (Republican Party) also staged demonstrations in Tunis.

The long-promised solution unveiled by Saied last month concerns a legal referendum, which will take place on July 25, following online discussions between January and March, as well as parliamentary elections in December this year.

‘Rebalancing power’

According to Kahlaoui, the main temptation is for the opposition parties to go with the presidential plan and fight them from within, or force their own. He asked if he could deal with Saied properly and devise another way to deal with the problem.

In his view, political leaders should work “in line with existing roads” while focusing more on Tunisia’s economic and economic needs.

“It would be realistic to realize the plan that has been announced to find real opportunities for a power struggle with Saied, and to move forward and ensure the resilience of the country’s institutions and the functioning of democracy,” Kahlaoui said. “That’s the way forward.”

He said the real “reformer” is how the president can respond to the social agenda and whether he will be able to reduce social mobilization, in line with the economic and social damage.

He also said that the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) is vigilant in preventing clashes with President Saied.

UGTT Secretary-General Noureddine Taboubi criticized the presidential election in December, saying it would not help address the country’s economic and social problems.

“How long are we going to talk about the law? “People today have an empty stomach and they are very poor,” said Taboubi. He further added that the agreement supported Saied’s move on July 25 but “did not give up [him] empty check ”.

In a statement issued Friday, the UGTT called for dialogue with the international community to act in accordance with the law and to protect human rights and freedoms.

Although Saied’s actions in July continue to be a source of support among the Tunisian people, the President has relinquished his popularity due to growing opposition to openly opposing what he sees as a means of independence.




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