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Tunisia: Protests Against Constitutional ‘Reform’ Follow Mass Public Sector Strike.

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Flights were cancelled, public transport ground to a halt and government offices were closed in a nationwide strike by Tunisia’s main trade union confederation Thursday, that piled pressure on a president already facing a string of crises.

France 24. 16. 6.2022,

The powerful UGTT confederation had called on up to three million public sector workers to strike, halting work at 159 state agencies and public companies to demand concessions on salaries and threatened reforms.

The action appeared to be widely observed in the capital Tunis, where post offices and public utilities were closed.

Police were present in large numbers outside UGTT headquarters as strikers began to gather for a rally.

The government has presented a reform plan to the global lender which includes a freeze on the public sector wage bill, progressive cuts to some subsidies and a restructuring of publicly owned companies.

But the UGTT, which has warned against “painful reforms” aimed at pleasing the IMF, has demanded guarantees that state sector firms, including some monopolies, will remain publicly owned.

The UGTT said Wednesday that its strike action aimed to defend workers’ economic and social rights after the “dithering of the government in the face of their legitimate demands”.

Employment Minister Nasreddine Nsibi said the government reserved the right to requisition some workers to allow essential services to operate.

While the UGTT insists the strike is not political, it comes as President Kais Saied faces intense criticism for excluding opposition forces from his “national dialogue” — part of a push to overhaul the Tunisian state and consolidate an ongoing power grab.

The president sacked the government and suspended an elected parliament in July last year, before dissolving the legislature in March and sacking scores of judges by decree earlier this month.

The UGTT was invited to take part in the national dialogue, but refused on the grounds that key political forces were not. It also argued that the process aimed to push through “conclusions decided unilaterally in advance”.

The UGTT, a co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts in a previous national dialogue in the wake of Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, had originally backed Saied when he sacked the government and suspended parliament.

But it has become increasingly critical as Saied has extended his power grab, which some of his rivals describe as a coup in the only democracy to emerge from the Arab uprisings of 2011.

Kaboub said democratisation had failed to deliver key economic reforms such as boosting food and energy sovereignty and investing in high value-added industries.

“It’s time for the IMF, the Tunisian government and the UGTT to formulate an alternative vision for economic development in Tunisia,” he said.

Tunisians protest against constitution referendum as opposition grows

TUNIS, June 18 (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Tunis on Saturday in opposition to a referendum on a new constitution called by President Kais Saied that would cement his hold on power.

The protest led by Abir Moussi, leader of the Free Constitutional Party, reflected growing opposition to Saied since he seized executive power last year, dissolving parliament and ruling by decree in a move opponents called a coup.

Another protest called by other opposition parties, including the Ennahda Islamist party, is expected on Sunday to protest against the referendum and Saied’s latest decrees, such as the dismissal of dozens of judges and military trials for some politicians.

The president’s supporters say he is standing up to elite forces whose bungling and corruption have condemned Tunisia to a decade of political paralysis and economic stagnation.

Tunisie : 5 partis politiques lancent une campagne pour “renverser” le référendum constitutionnel

– Les partis concernés sont les suivants: le Parti Républicain, le Courant démocrate, le Forum démocratique pour le Travail et les Libertés, le Parti des Travailleurs et le Pôle (gauche)

 Joint statement by the Republican Party, the Democratic Current, the Democratic Forum for Labour and Freedoms, the Workers’ Party and the Pole (left), which was read by the Secretary General of the Party of the workers, Hamma Hammami, during a press conference held in the capital, Tunis.

Hammami said the aforementioned parties will launch a “national campaign to overturn the referendum on the Constitution by refusing to participate and calling for a boycott.

“A number of activities on the ground and in the media will be carried out with the aim of protecting the country from the dangers of disintegration and fighting against all forms of violation of national sovereignty and infringement of public and individual freedoms. We will be open to all democratic and progressive political forces and personalities who meet the campaign objectives to defeat the referendum,” he explained.

The parties considered that “the referendum project is dangerous, by which the President intends to give false legitimacy to ready-made decisions”.

Libération June the 14th:

Crise constitutionnelle

En Tunisie, Kaïs Saïed saborde la IIe République.

After having granted himself full powers, the President intends to vote for a new Constitution. Decree by decree he is attacking all the institutions born of the, now decried, 2011 revolution.

The days of the Second Tunisian Republic, born of the 2011 revolution, are numbered. President Kaïs Saïed had granted himself full powers after his July 25 coup,and  he has since pursued a systematic attempt to dismantle institutions. After Parliament has been suspended, the High Council of the Judiciary, dissolved, the Authority for the fight against corruption, paralysed, the Independent Superior Authority for the elections (Isie) was reshaped by hand . Its members are no longer elected by the deputies, but appointed by the President of the Republic. One of them, the administrative judge Habib Rebii, appointed last month by a presidential decree, resigned from the electoral authority on Monday.


Written by Andrew Coates

June 19, 2022 at 3:49 pm

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