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Hundreds of Tunisians rally against economic crisis

By AFP - Jan 14,2023 - Last updated at Jan 14,2023

TUNIS — Hundreds of Tunisians marched on Saturday after opponents of President Kais Saied called for protests over a worsening economic crisis.

"The people want what you don't want. Down with Saied," chanted the activists, including supporters of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha Party.

Ennahdha had dominated parliament until Saied launched a dramatic power grab on July 25, 2021, sacking the government and freezing parliament before appointing a new cabinet and ruling by decree.

"The coup has brought us famine and poverty. Yesterday the grocer gave me just 1 kilo of macaroni and a can of milk," said Nouha, a woman at one protest.

"How can I feed my family of 13 people with that?" the 50-year-old housewife lamented.

Saturday's protests were staged in the capital Tunis by two different opposition groups and were held far apart with a heavy police presence to avoid any unrest.

They were held against a backdrop of deepening political divisions on the 12th anniversary of the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The biggest opposition force, the National Salvation Front which includes Ennahdha, was kept about 1 kilometre from left-wing party activists gathered in front of the municipal theatre.

Another march attended by hundreds of people was led by Abir Moussi of the anti-Islamist opposition Free Destourian Party, in the south of Carthage, where the presidential palace is located.

Tunisians who largely supported Saied's takeover have become increasingly fed up with the economic crisis.

The state, which is heavily in debt, has found it difficult to import basic goods, and there are chronic shortages of staples such as coffee, milk and sugar.

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