March 30, 2023

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Tunisia: Opposition protest planned for March 5 banned

Tunisian authorities have permanently banned Sunday’s planned rally by the National Salvation Front (FSN), the main opposition coalition, saying some of its leaders are suspected of “plotting against state security”.

In a statement, Tunis’ president, Kamel Fekki, said a request by “the so-called National Salvation Front” to hold a march on Sunday was not approved because some of its leaders were suspected of plotting against security. State”.

Calling for the demonstration to denounce “political arrests and violations of public and individual freedoms”, the FSN challenged the prerogative of the president to ban it in a press release and announced that it would take place on Sunday at 09:00 as planned. GMT in the center of Tunis.

Around twenty people in political, media and business circles have been arrested in Tunisia since the beginning of February.

The arrests were heavily criticized by local and international NGOs, particularly targeting leading political figures from the FSN and its main constituent, the Islamist-conservative Ennahda party.

Two party figures, Sadok Chourou and Habib Ellouz, were arrested on Thursday, according to Tunisian media.

In a statement Thursday evening, Ennahda said the arrests were aimed at “intimidating the opposition” and called on Tunisians to “participate en masse” in Sunday’s demonstration.

President Qais Syed, who assumed full powers in July 2021, called those arrested “terrorists” and involved in a “conspiracy against state security”.

Amnesty International called the campaign for arrest a “politically motivated witch hunt”.

A press release from Tunis’ governor did not mention a demonstration planned for Saturday by the trade union confederation UGTT in the center of Tunis against President Syed’s “one man power”.

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The UGTT announced on Thursday that a Spanish trade unionist who was due to take part in the demonstration had been banned from entering Tunisia.

“We learned with dismay that Comrade Marco Pérez Molina, responsible for cooperation with Africa and Asia within the CEC UGT Spain, was banned from entering the Tunisian territory and expelled from Tunisia. Tunis-Carthage airport in another violation of trade union rights and fundamental principles of freedom and human rights,” the trade union center said.

On February 18, President Syed ordered the expulsion of Esther Lynch, the EU’s top trade union official, for statements she described as “blatant interference” in Tunisian affairs during a UGTT demonstration.

The UGTT, which is highly influential on the political scene, has been in limbo since the arrest of a union official on January 31 following a presidential speech condemning the instrumentalization of the right to strike. He is in conflict with Saiyam. Political Motives”.