Tunisians call on President Saied to step down amid economic crisis
Thousands of Tunisians have taken to the streets of the capital in a public display of anger at President Kais Saied’s seizure of near total power in the country.
Protesters pushed through police barricades in central Tunis on Saturday, against a backdrop of deepening political divisions on the 12th anniversary of the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The protests were staged by two different opposition groups and were held far apart with a heavy police presence to prevent unrest.
Protesters, however, defied police instructions and pushed past barricades to reach the central Habib Bourguiba Avenue, where a large police presence was visible outside the Interior Ministry premises.
Saied shut down the elected parliament in 2021 and began to reshape the political system, but low turnout for the December elections of a new, mostly powerless, legislature revealed little public appetite for his changes.
The main political forces, including most parties and the labor union, now oppose Saied's project, with many of them calling it an anti-democratic coup.
Tunisia is currently embroiled with a severe economic crisis, with frequent shortages of basic goods from petrol to cooking oil.
Tunisians largely supported Saied's takeover in 2021, but they have now become increasingly fed up with the economic crisis.
"The coup has brought us famine and poverty," said Nouha, a woman who said she has to "feed my family of 13 people."
Protesters also marked the 12th anniversary of the revolution on January 14, 2011, when Ben Ali was forced out of power.