Twelve years after Ben Ali, Tunisians demonstrate against Kaïs Saïed

Twelve years after Ben Ali Tunisians demonstrate against Kais Saied

President Kaïs Saïed, who has held full powers for a year and a half, is now also concentrating all the anger of the opposition while Tunisia is going through an intense economic crisis.

With our correspondent in Tunis, Amira Souilem

Like a deja vu. Twelve years after the fall of Ben Ali, Tunisians are returning to the streets. They demand this time the departure of Kaïs Saïed. Chaker, a 27-year-old unemployed man, holds up a sign inviting the master of Carthage to leave. ” We don’t want this president anymore. he throws. He said he was going to clean up the country, well, he did. No sugar, no oil, no tomatoes, we have no other alternative but to tell him “get out”. »

While Tunisia is going through an acute economic crisis that has resulted in numerous food shortages (see box), the demands were, in large part, economic. But not only. ” What our fathers and mothers endured during the dictatorship is something that we young people do not want to relive, explains Amine, 35, private executive. We don’t want our children to have to know that either. »

On the outskirts of Avenue Bourguiba, the beating heart of the Jasmine Revolution twelve years ago, no less than six different rallies were organized this Saturday, the Islamist party Ennahdha draining the bulk of the troops. Not far from there, left-wing parties have managed to attract a few clusters of activists. One of them explains that they all have the same objective: What brings us all together today is the desire to put an end to the coup. We want to put an end to the power of Kaïs Saïed, the putschist, he who carried out a coup against the 2014 Constitution and who implemented his bespoke Constitution. »

The end of the reforms

So much for the theory. When he meets an Islamist militant in favor of the establishment of a caliphate in Tunisia, things get tough. ” Me, I want a civil state, said the first. And here is the Avenue de la Révolution. Celebrate your caliphate if you want, but let me celebrate a state separate from religion and revolution. » « The revolution was stolen from us “replies the second. ” You say that the revolution was stolen from us, but you really believe that you are part of this revolution? »

In scattered ranks, opponents of Kaïs Saïed are now demanding an end to the political reforms initiated by the Tunisian president. Requests that come as the country is called to vote for the second round of legislative elections in two weeks.

Taking the lead in this day of mobilization against him and to show that he remains popular, Kaïs Saïed himself surveyed avenue Bourguiba, offering himself a walkabout broadcast on social networks by the communication service of the Presidency.

Read also: 2011-2021, ten years later, where are the Arab springs?

Twelve years after the fall of Ben Ali, Tunisia in the grip of a deep economic and social crisis

In July 2021, barely a year and nine months after his election with 72% of the vote, Tunisian President Kais Saïed deemed the country ungovernable. He then dismisses his Prime Minister and freezes Parliament. Since then, Tunisians, who had largely supported their president, have felt betrayed. They denounce their deteriorating living conditions with inflation above 10% which eats away at their purchasing power.

The Tunisian state is highly indebted and has difficulty financing the import of basic products. Milk, sugar, coffee or recently pasta are almost impossible to find. After the pandemic, the war in Ukraine aggravated shortages and inflated prices, especially of imported products, such as oil or wheat. At the same time, discussions with the IMF for the granting of 1.7 billion euros in credit are stalling. However, without this loan, Tunisia will not be able to achieve its budgetary balances, nor honor its debt. An external debt which amounts to 106 billion dinars, or 32 billion euros.