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Tunis protesters mark 13 anniversary of Tunisian revolution

Tunis protesters mark 13th anniversary of Tunisian revolution
2 min read
Tunisia's protestors focused on calling for the release of the opponents of Kais Saied and critics of the government who have been arrested and jailed.
Tunisians marched in the capital Tunis to mark the 13th anniversary of the ousting of President [Photo by Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu via Getty Images]

Hundreds of Tunisians demonstrated on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the country's 2011 revolution that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings, and to demand the release of jailed opposition leaders.

They marched down the central thoroughfare of the capital Tunis waving the national flag, commemorating the day when dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted - which set off a series of uprisings across the Middle East.

"The spirit of January 14 is still here," said Moncef Araissia, a retiree who was among the several hundred protesters that AFP journalists estimated turned out for the demonstration.

"Our vision is still the same, despite some mistakes we made, and despite the coup that took place," he added, referring to President Kais Saied's sweeping power grab.

Saied was democratically elected in 2019, but two years later he sacked the government and suspended parliament. He later amended the constitution to further centralise power.

A number of his opponents are currently behind bars as the North African country prepares for presidential elections in December this year.

Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, leader of the National Salvation Front (FSN) opposition coalition, said the polls should not be conducted under conditions set by Saied.

"Candidates are in jail or have been threatened to prevent them from running, the election authority is under [Saied's] control... journalists are harassed and prosecuted," he added.

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"This is not free competition."

Early last year, authorities arrested a number of Saied's political opponents and others opposed to the government, and they were later jailed over an alleged plot against the state.

Among them were Rached Ghannouchi, the 82-year-old leader of the opposition Ennahdha party, and Jawhar Ben Mbarek, co-founder of the FSN.

Ghannouchi received a one-year prison sentence on terrorism-related charges in May.

At least 16 Tunisian journalists currently face trial, according to local media.

Many are being prosecuted under a law introduced by Saied to punish "spreading false news" with up to 10 years in prison.