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Thousands protest Tunisia economic woes

Thousands protest Tunisia economic woes
1 min read
Thousands of Tunisians are protesting against deteriorating living conditions under the authoritarian government of Kais Saied.
The protest outside the office of the prime minister was largely about Tunisia's dire economic woes and worsening human rights conditions [Getty]

Thousands protested deteriorating living standards outside the prime minister's office in Tunis on Saturday following a call from Tunisia's main trade union confederation.

"The economic and social situation continues to worsen," the confederation's head, Noureddine Taboubi, said in a speech to protesters.

Taboubi said the state's ability to service its foreign debt in 2023 had been "to the detriment of the people and resulted in shortages of basic products".

He criticised the implementation of "diktats from the International Monetary Fund" (IMF) at the expense of ordinary Tunisians.

The Tunisian economy is at a standstill with growth of 0.4 percent and an unemployment rate of 16.4 percent in 2023, according to the National Institute of Statistics.

Unemployment stood at 15.2 percent at the end of 2022.

President Kais Saied has ruled by decree since a July 2021 power grab and last year rammed through a constitution that gave his office unlimited powers and neutered parliament.

Weathering a grave economic crisis, Tunis concluded an agreement with the IMF in October 2022 for a two billion dollar loan facility.

But loan tranches stalled when the president rejected reforms demanded by the IMF.