Tunisia police fired water cannons against the president
TUNIS, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Tunisian police used water to disperse more than 1,000 protesters who were trying to reach central Tunis on Friday to protest against the president in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions. Used canons and sticks.
Heavy police presence prevented many protesters from gathering at Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the main street of central Tunis, the traditional focal point of demonstrations during the 2011 revolution, which brought democracy.
Police then tried to disperse several different groups of protesters, at least one of which had hundreds of protesters, witnesses said, kicking and pushing them back.
The home ministry said 1,200 people protested and said its forces had exercised restraint.
Opposition parties, including the moderate Islamist Ennahda, are protesting President Kais Sayed’s move to suspend parliament, assume executive power and rewrite the constitution, which they call a coup.
Ennahda member of the suspended parliament, Imed Khemiri, said, “It is shameful to stop independent Tunisians from protesting on the anniversary of the revolution … and is an attack on freedom and represents a major decline under the coup authorities.”
Dozens of police cars were parked in the area and two water cannons were used outside the interior ministry building, which is located on the same street.
Friday’s protest goes against the ban on all indoor or outdoor gatherings, which the government announced on Tuesday to contain a COVID-19 wave.
Chayma Issa, an opposition activist, said: “Today Sayed’s only answer to opponents is with the force and the security forces … It is very sad to see Tunisia as a barracks on the date of our revolution.”
Ennahda and other parties participating in the protest accused the government of imposing restrictions and resuming the night curfew for political reasons rather than health reasons as a way to stop the protest.
Although Saeed’s action in July appeared very popular at first after economic stagnation and political paralysis, analysts say it appears to have lost some support since then.
Tunisia’s economy is battered by the pandemic, little progress has been made in securing international support for fragile public finances and the government appointed in September Said announced an unpopular budget for 2022.
Friday falls on what Tunisians used to mark the anniversary of the first revolution, the day autocratic former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country. Syed ruled last year that the anniversary of the December date of the suicide of a street vendor that sparked the rebellion would be celebrated.