Hundreds protest against Tunisia draft constitution as vote looms | Politics News

Older and youthful generations march in Tunis to reject President Kais Saied’s draft structure, days forward of a referendum.

Tunis, Tunisia – A whole lot of individuals have rallied in Tunis to protest in opposition to a draft structure proposed by President Kais Saied, two days earlier than a deliberate referendum on the constitution.

The Nationwide Salvation Entrance alliance of opposition teams led a march by the Tunisian capital on Saturday to reject the president’s structure change programme and decried what they name an undemocratic and unlawful course of.

Most of the protesters have been from the older technology, who had lived beneath former President Zine Abbedine Ben Ali and took half within the 2011 revolution which compelled him from workplace.

Amongst them was Amna Fehty, an Ennadha supporter who mentioned she was there to “battle for freedom and democracy”.

“We can not progress or have any energy on this world beneath a dictatorship,” she advised Al Jazeera.

“I don’t need to see our kids dwell as slaves beneath a dictator.”

protesters hold tunisian flag
Folks participate in a protest in opposition to President Kais Saied’s draft structure forward of a referendum [Zoubeir Souissi/Retuers]

Stress has been rising within the nation upfront of the vote amid fears that the draft structure would function the premise of a brand new hyper-presidential authorities system.

The referendum is being held one yr after Saied suspended the parliament and sacked the federal government in what his opponents name an influence seize. The president mentioned he was responding to the favored will and saving the nation from imminent hazard.

He quickly started ruling by decree and has dismantled a few of the nation’s democratic state establishments together with the Supreme Judicial Council, whereas pushing for a brand new structure, a draft of which was revealed final month.

The constitution would restrict the powers of the parliament and judiciary and enshrine the powers he has amassed over the previous yr.

A member of the manager committee of the Nationwide Salvation Entrance known as Monday’s referendum “one other hyperlink in a sequence of unlawful occasions.”

“We’re right here to state for historical past that we imagine this new structure is totally illegitimate and can proceed to respect the 2014 structure,” Jaohar ben Mbarek advised Al Jazeera.

There have been additionally some youthful folks among the many crowds at Saturday’s rally. They mentioned that Kais Saied is stealing their likelihood to develop their democracy.

Alabbas Ben Abdennabi, a 22-year-old enterprise research pupil, advised Al Jazeera “Kais Saied did a coup d’etat, he betrayed the Tunisian individuals who voted for him … [Saied] needs to be like a sultan.”

Ammen Ekalini, a 20-year-old activist, got here to the demonstration with fellow college students and mentioned they’re undeterred by the referendum and able to battle for democracy.

“We would like the world to know that we’re the technology of democracy,” he advised Al Jazeera.

“We all know how a lot our dad and mom suffered beneath dictatorship, they have been right here [on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, Tunis] in 2011 in the course of the revolution. We all know this structure will undergo. It says in Article 139 that whether or not sure or no wins, it will likely be activated.”

Duaa Naceur, an 18-year-old highschool pupil, advised Al Jazeera, “Saied needs to steal all our rights, however we gained’t let him.”

“Our message to the world is: assist us rebuild our democracy. We’re succesful, we will do it.”

Saturday’s peaceable rally adopted a protest the earlier night the place police arrested a number of protesters and violently beat activists.

Al Jazeera witnessed violent beatings and use of pepper spray at Friday’s protest.

The Ministry of the Inside mentioned protesters initiated the violence in opposition to police.

The Tunisian labour union UGTT condemned the police violence and demanded the discharge of detainees and a full investigation saying, “We maintain the president accountable for this authoritarian deviation.”

Police arrest leading gay activist in crackdown on Tunisia rally | Protests News

Tunis, Tunisia – Police have arrested a number one homosexual rights campaigner in a violent pushback towards younger individuals throughout a rally towards the upcoming referendum on the Tunisian president’s newly proposed structure.

Police violently shoved protesters marching on Friday in a vocal however peaceable demonstration as they headed in direction of the Ministry of Inside within the centre of Tunis to reveal towards President Kais Saied’s newly-penned structure and demand an finish to the referendum course of.

Al Jazeera witnessed beatings and different violent abuses of protesters, and likewise noticed police use pepper spray.

President Saied revealed his new draft structure on the finish of final month, forward of a referendum scheduled for July 25 the place Tunisians will vote to just accept or reject the doc.

July 25 marks a yr since Saied sacked Tunisia’s prime minister, suspended parliament and assumed government authority, citing a nationwide emergency in a transfer critics have referred to as a coup.

Two months later he introduced he would rule by decree, and dismantled most of the nation’s democratic state establishments together with the Superior Judicial Council. In June, he fired dozens of judges accusing them of corruption and “terrorism”, additional consolidating his energy.

Scuffles between protesters and police in Tunis
The police scuffled with protesters who accuse President Kais Saied of an influence seize and concern the brand new structure will result in dictatorship [Fethi Belaid/AFP]

Saied says he has applied a interval of remarkable measures to save lots of the nation from an imminent hazard however his critics say his actions have solely exacerbated the political and financial crises going through Tunisians who’re struggling amid excessive inflation and unemployment, and declining public companies.

‘I’m so offended’

 

On Friday, police launched a variety of aggressive costs towards what was a comparatively small though vocal group of protesters.

As they charged towards protesters they attacked chief of the left wing Entrance Widespread Hama Hemami, a feminine journalist was slapped whereas attempting to {photograph} police arresting a protester and Al Jazeera noticed many individuals struggling the painful results of fuel and pepper spray.

Police dragged protesters to the bottom as they arrested them, and held them in stress holds as they marched a few of them away.

Amongst these arrested was a number one LGBTQI+ activist Saif Ayadi. Avocats sans Frontiers informed Al Jazeera he’s presently being held at Gorjani detention centre however ASF say they’re involved for his security as he has beforehand been arrested and crushed by police.

Riot police pushed again the gang with their shields earlier than fellow officers charged forcefully towards the gang chasing protesters down facet streets.

Khalil Ayari, a 23 yr previous nursing scholar, informed Al Jazeera: “I noticed 10 individuals arrested, and (they) had been simply protesting peacefully. I noticed them assault a woman, they had been pulling her arm so laborious I might see the bruises rising.”

Ayari stated he took to the streets as a result of he was livid on the president’s actions.

“I’m so offended,” he stated. “I learn the structure, it’s solely concerning the president, it’s all for him, he’s going to make all the choices and take every thing.”

He added: “After at the moment I not longer really feel secure in Tunisia.”

Underneath the brand new structure, Saied would have the ability to proceed to rule by decree till a brand new parliament is fashioned after an election set for December. He would even have final authority over the federal government and judiciary, with the federal government answering to the president and to not parliament.

Protesters and police jostle at barriers erected in Tunis with an officer spraying tear gas into their faces
A Tunisian policeman sprays tear fuel at a protester attempting to take away metallic boundaries throughout Friday’s protest towards the proposed new structure [Fethi Belaid/AFP]

The face of Ayla Salemi, who works in civil society, was shiny crimson after being caught within the pepper spray.

“The police had been shouting and insisting that we go house, then they charged at us,” she informed Al Jazeera. “They battered the feminine activist Waen Nawal with a stick they usually used pepper spray on me and others.”

The 35-year-old tried to catch her breath. “I used to be towards what occurred final yr within the parliament, however I’m additionally towards this president, issues are a lot worse now than they had been earlier than.”

For a lot of younger individuals, Saied’s actions are a betrayal.

“We’re towards Saied’s structure as a result of this can convey us to dictatorship, we can not tolerate this; we’re right here to say no!” 23-year-old legislation scholar Malak Ben Amane informed Al Jazeera.

Half approach by way of the interview a policeman got here to berate Ben Amane, however she stood coolly and refused to maneuver. Because the officer moved away she stated: “This violence will not be uncommon it occurs day-after-day, it is a police state.”

Till Friday, protests towards the president had principally concerned middle-aged individuals, however the younger at the moment are popping out towards him too.

“Sure, we’re depressed, however we’re right here to defend our revolution and our democracy, so I’ll march once more tomorrow,” Ben Amane stated.