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Tunisians defy ban to protest against president

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Tunisians defy ban to protest against president

Tunisian police used tear gas and water cannons on Friday against hundreds of demonstrators who defied a ban on gatherings to protest President Kais Saied’s seizure of power in July.

As the country marks 11 years since the fall of late dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, hundreds of Saied’s opponents staged rallies against his seizure of power in July 2021.

They had met despite restrictions imposed on Thursday, ostensibly to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 300 protesters gathered on Mohamed V Avenue, where some broke through a police cordon before being forced back by police with batons.

AFP reporters saw several detainees.

Security forces had been deployed extensively to prevent them from reaching the central Habib Bourguiba Avenue and the Interior Ministry headquarters, where major protests in early 2011 forced Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Some of the protesters on Friday chanted “Down with the coup!”, a reference to Saied’s July 25 actions in which he sacked the government, froze parliament and seized a variety of powers.

Since then, he has virtually ruled by decree, much to the outrage of his opponents, including the powerful Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party.

Some Tunisians, tired of the bribe-ridden and inept parliamentary system, welcomed his moves.

But for Ennahdha’s supporters, they recall Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s crackdown on the Islamist opposition, which left hundreds dead in 2013 and thousands jailed since then.

“You are working for Sisi and the United Arab Emirates!” a woman told a police officer.

The protests took place despite a series of measures, including a nightly curfew and a ban on public gatherings, introduced on Thursday night purportedly to tackle a sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

Ennahdha has said the moves are politically motivated.

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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