North Africa: Against "oppression and tyranny": protests in Tunisia

He can't find a solution to the serious economic crisis, while the need in Tunisia continues to grow.

North Africa: Against "oppression and tyranny": protests in Tunisia

He can't find a solution to the serious economic crisis, while the need in Tunisia continues to grow. Thousands of people have therefore demonstrated again against President Kais Saied's political course. It was one of the largest protests since the head of state began his controversial expansion of power at the expense of other democratic institutions.

Because despite the new abundance of power, Saied is not bringing the country forward, and according to surveys, his popularity ratings have recently fallen sharply. That's why he relies on aggression: the president is taking increasingly drastic action against his critics - and recently also against refugees.

"Repression and tyranny" will not exist in Tunisia, said the general secretary of the influential trade union federation UGTT, Noureddine Taboubi. The trade unionists had called for the protest in the capital Tunis. You have become one of the President's most important opponents. Some demonstrators called for an end to the "liberties of the police state."

Dozens of critics arrested

Dozens of Saied's critics have been arrested in Tunisia since February, including opposition politicians, judges, a journalist and a representative of the UGTT. They are accused of corruption and "conspiracy against state security". Human Rights Watch (HRW), on the other hand, criticized that there was no solid evidence for the allegations.

The country also recently expelled the General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation ETUC, Esther Lynch. A few days ago, a member of a Spanish trade union was also refused entry. Saied is not on good terms with unionists. Its dispute with the UGTT is also considered the main reason why the North African country has still not reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Tunisia's leadership is hoping for a billion-dollar loan to avert national bankruptcy. However, the UGTT rejects the reforms demanded by the IMF in return, as they would probably be very painful for many Tunisians who are already suffering from the economic crisis.

Racist allegations: President accuses black Africans

The ailing president has meanwhile identified a new scapegoat: in a speech a week and a half ago, Saied accused migrants from sub-Saharan African countries of bringing violence and crime into the country. There is a "criminal agreement" to change Tunisia's demographic composition. The country is in danger of becoming purely African and losing its Muslim and Arab identity. Critics accuse Saied of wanting to distract attention from other problems with this rush.

Nevertheless, hostilities and racist attacks have increased since then, and security forces have arrested hundreds of black people to check whether they are in the country legally. More and more people affected, for example from Ivory Coast, Congo or Guinea, no longer feel safe and want to leave the country. There are also increasing reports that those affected are being fired from their jobs and apartments.

The African Union (AU) was "shocked" after Saied's speech. A week ago on Saturday, several hundred people took to the streets in the capital Tunis to protest against racism. Tunisia is an African country, they chanted.

Tunisians are fleeing a lack of prospects

Tunisia is considered an important transit country for migrants on their way to Europe. However, the majority of people who are currently arriving in Italy by boat come from Tunisia itself. Given the lack of prospects in the North African country, they are hoping for a better life in Europe. "I'm disappointed that the President isn't doing anything to alleviate the plight of the people," a demonstrator told dpa on Saturday.

Kais Saied secures more and more power in the country. He also dissolved parliament and had a new, significantly weakened representative body elected. The head of state also introduced a controversial new constitution, thanks to which he can also appoint and dismiss judges of his own accord.