Tunisia: Thousands of people demonstrate against authoritarian drift of President Kaïs Saïed

The organizer of the demonstration, the powerful UGTT union, called on Saturday the Tunisian president to cease “these arrest practices” and to “accept dialogue”.

MO12345lemonde with AFP

“Freedom, freedom, at low police state”, “stop impoverishment”, thousands of people walked in Tunis on Saturday March 4, at the call of the country’s main union, the Union Tunisian Labor General (UGTT), who called President Kaïs Saïed to accept “Dialogue”.

The head of the UGTT denounced at the gallery about twenty recent arrests of opponents of the Head of State – including leaders of the main anti -Heaed coalition – and a trade unionist for having launched a strike in motorway tolls. “We will never accept these arrest practices,” said Noureddine Taboubi, in front of more than 3,000 people gathered in the Tunisian capital, according to journalists from the France-Presse (AFP).

“We resist to defend our union right and are united like the five fingers of the hand,” said Taboubi, whose power plant claims nearly a million members and who is a centerpiece of dialogue national in Tunisia.

The UGTT, very influential on the political scene, has been engaged in an showdown with Mr. Saïed since the arrest on January 31 of a union official in the wake of a speech by the president denouncing an instrumentalization of the right to strike “for political purposes”.

The chief of the Colauréate of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 denounced on the part of President Saïed, “of the settling of accounts and remarks that divide the company”. And to add: “We have presented an initiative [of reforms] with others and it is as if we had committed a crime”. He also launched the Tunisian President a call “to peaceful and democratic changes”.

Tunisia indebted 80 % of his GDP

The boss of the powerful union also criticized the negotiations between the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), assuring that the UGTT was not “informed in detail of the proposals” of Tunis. Tunisia, in debt to 80 % of its GDP due in particular to the weight of its public service (more than 650,000 employees), negotiates IMF assistance of almost $ 2 billion, but the talks have been dragging since mid-October.

Many demonstrators brandished baguettes or empty bouts to denounce inflation which exceeds 10 % per month and sporadic shortages of basic foodstuffs (milk, coffee, sugar and oil). Once again, Mr. Taboubi completely rejected the idea “of a lifting of subsidies” state to basic products (fuels and food), one of the counterparts to the granting of aid by the IMF.

The union leader also defended “the rights” of migrants. “Tunisia is a country of tolerance,” no “to racism,” he said, after attacks in Tunisia against sub-Saharan nationals who followed Mr. Saïed’s speech against illegal immigration.

/Media reports cited above.