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Tunisia .. protests escalate and parliament stops voting on a cabinet reshuffle

Protests took place in the Tunisian capital and other cities today against government policies and police violations, while the Assembly of the Representatives of the People session stopped to vote on a cabinet reshuffle presented by Prime Minister Hicham El-Mechichi.

Today, the Tunisian security forces prevented a number of people who were planning to reach Habib Bourguiba Street, the main street in the capital, to demonstrate in front of the Ministry of Interior building. A protest against government policies, including police violence.

This comes as an extension of the protest that was held in front of the parliament building to demand the release of those arrested in the recent demonstrations, which took place in some of the country’s governorates, as well as the protest stand condemned the economic and social policies of the government.

A number of civil organizations and parties in Tunisia organized a protest in front of Parliament, calling for the release of the detainees and the achievement of economic development, and the protesters raised slogans denouncing the government’s policy and the measures it had taken to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

Al-Tadamon neighborhood

Earlier today, a march was launched from Al-Tadamon neighborhood (west of the capital) to the parliament headquarters, to demand the release of those arrested during the recent protests, whose number was estimated by human rights organizations at about a thousand, including hundreds of minors.

Demonstrators in the Tadamon neighborhood (west of the Tunisian capital) demanding the release of those arrested during previous protests (Anatolia)

Reuters reported that riot police fired water cannons at the protesters in the Al-Tadamon neighborhood, and set up barriers in front of the protesters to prevent them from approaching the parliament building.

The security forces imposed a tight security cordon around the parliament, which is witnessing a plenary session, to give confidence to the new government formation proposed by the prime minister.

Multiple protests

Protests erupted in Tunisian cities this month, on the 10th anniversary of the Tunisian revolution in 2011, which inspired the Arab Spring uprisings, brought democracy to Tunisia, and exacerbated political stalemate and economic decline, prompting many Tunisians to question the fruits of the revolution.

Participants in the protests called for a fairer social policy, and for the release of hundreds of protesters who were arrested by the police after the clashes.

For nights, young men attacked the police deployed to impose a curfew shortly after the tenth anniversary of the revolution that toppled in 2011 the late President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In a related context, participants clashed today in the funeral of a Tunisian youth who was killed in the town of Sbeitla in the state of Kasserine (248 kilometers southwest of the capital) with the police, and the participants chanted slogans against security. The young man, Heikal Al-Rashidi, was killed yesterday, Monday, by a tear gas canister.

Cabinet reshuffle

In conjunction with the ongoing protests, the Assembly of the Representatives of the People holds a plenary session to vote on granting confidence to the proposed ministers in the expanded government amendment announced by the Presbyterian prime minister, which included 11 ministerial portfolios, including justice and the interior.

Some of the proposed names sparked controversy in political circles. President Qais Saeed criticized the amendment, and said that it was marred by constitutional flaws, because he did not respect the procedures stipulated in the constitution, explaining that some of the names proposed in the amendment are linked to cases of suspicion of corruption.

On the other hand, representatives of the two blocs “Ennahda Movement” and “Heart of Tunisia” party expressed their support for the amendment, while the “Democratic Bloc” and some independents opposed it. The Tunisian Prime Minister said during the Parliament session to give confidence to the ministers proposed in the amendment that the approach to Parliament came because The source of legitimacy. Al-Mashishi warned of the dangerous conditions in his country, and said that the road to reform is still long.

Reuters reported that the parliamentary debate on the ministerial change stopped in the afternoon before an expected vote in the evening, and some opposition MPs left the parliament building to participate in the protest abroad.

The head of the Free Constitutional Party bloc in parliament, Abeer Moussa, said that her bloc (16 seats out of 217) entered a sit-in in parliament, in an attempt to bring signatures on her petition to withdraw confidence from the heads of government, Hisham Al-Mishishi and Parliament Rashid Al-Ghannouchi.

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