Tunisians march against Saied on anniversary of his power grab

Hundreds of protesters rallied in the streets of Tunis to commemorate the second anniversary of President Kais Saied’s seizure of power on Tuesday, voicing their demands for an end to “autocratic rule” and the immediate release of detained opposition leaders.

Around 300 individuals assembled on the central Habib Bourguiba Avenue for a rally orchestrated by the main opposition coalition Salvation Front. The protesters displayed placards reading “Freedom for political detainees” and “Down with the coup.”

In other parts of the capital, hundreds of supporters of the opposition group, the Free Constitution Party, led by party leader Abir Moussi, gathered while waving Tunisian flags and chanted “poverty increased, hunger increased” and “Saied, enough.”

In 2021, Saied took control of most powers, dissolving the parliament and subsequently introducing a new constitution that grants him almost complete authority.

In April, the authorities arrested Rached Ghannouchi, 82, the most prominent critic of President Saied and an opposition leader.

Former prime minister Ali Laryedh and other officials from Ghannouchi’s party were also among those detained.

Back in February, the police arrested approximately 20 notable political leaders, including members of the Salvation Front, on charges of conspiring against state security.

The opposition argues that President Saied, who was elected in 2019, bolstered his authority through a coup. However, he has justified his actions by asserting that they were legal and essential to rescue Tunisia from the turmoil and pervasive corruption.

Moussi informed her supporters that “Saied changed all laws and the entire political system for the worse… If there is an imminent danger, it is Kais Saied.”

Tunisia is currently facing a severe economic crisis and requires external financial aid to prevent defaulting on its debts. Simultaneously, Tunisians are grappling with high living costs and shortages of essential commodities, including sugar, semolina, oil, coffee, and rice.

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