World Protests across Tunisia as COVID-19 surges and economy suffers
Delta variant surges in Middle East and North Africa as region braces for 'catastrophic consequences'
The Middle East and North Africa is witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases aggravated by the Delta variant of the virus -- and it may get worse over coming weeks -- according to the World Health Organization (WHO). © Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images The body of a Covid-19 victim is placed into a casket at the Ibn al-Jazzar hospital in the Tunisian city of Kairouan on July 4, 2021. An increase in coronavirus cases has been reported in Libya, Iran, Iraq and Tunisia as the region edges toward a "critical point," WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office said Wednesday.
TUNIS (Reuters) - Hundreds of protesters rallied in the Tunisian capital and other cities on Sunday demanding the government step down after a spike in COVID-19 cases that has aggravated economic troubles.
In Tunis, police used pepper spray against protesters who threw stones and shouted slogans demanding that Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi quit and parliament be dissolved.
Witnesses said rallies numbering several hundred also gathered the cities of Gafsa, Sidi Bouzid, Monastir and Nabeul. Demonstrators in Sousse tried to storm the local headquarters of the biggest party in parliament, the moderate Islamist Ennahda. In Touzeur, protesters set fire to the Ennahda headquarters.
Tunisia. The Minister of Health Limoged in full progression of COVID-19
© Photo Illustration / AFP Tunisian President Kais Saied receives a CVIVID-19 vaccine injection in Tunis. While the number of contaminations at CVIV-19 continues to increase in Tunisia, the Minister of Health Faouzi Mehdi has been limited, Tuesday, July 20th. The Tunisian Minister Health Faouzi Mehdi has been limited on Tuesday night, after the first day of an outstanding vaccination campaign open to all adults for the largest Muslim holiday, in full peak contamination At the coronavirus.
The protests raise pressure on a fragile government that is enmeshed in a political struggle with President Kais Saied, who is trying to avert a looming fiscal crisis amid a weeks-long spike in COVID-19 cases and increased death rates.
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The pandemic has hit Tunisia as it struggles to lift an economy that has suffered since its 2011 revolution, undermining public support for democracy as unemployment surged and state services declined.
"Our patience has run out... there are no solutions for the unemployed," said Nourredine Selmi, 28, a jobless protester. "They cannot control the epidemic ... They can't give us vaccines."
Violent protests in Tunisia over the economy, virus spread
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Violent demonstrations broke out on Sunday in several Tunisian cities as protesters expressed anger at the deterioration of the North African nation's health, economic and social situation. Thousands of people defied virus restrictions and scorching heat to demonstrate in the capital of Tunis and other cities. The largely young crowds shouted “Get out!” and slogans calling for the dissolution of parliament and early elections. The protests were called on the 64th anniversary of Tunisia's independence by a new group called the July 25 Movement.
Last week, Mechichi sacked the health minister after chaotic scenes at walk-in vaccination centres during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, where large crowds queued for inadequate supplies of vaccine.
After a year of wrangling with Mechichi and the leader of Ennahda, Rached Ghannouchi, who is also parliament speaker, President Saied declared the army would take over the pandemic response.
Some analysts saw the move as an attempt to expand his powers beyond the foreign and military role assigned to the president in the 2014 constitution.
Government paralysis could derail efforts to negotiate an International Monetary Fund loan seen as crucial to stabilising state finances but which could also involve spending cuts that would aggravate economic pain for ordinary people.
(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Edmund Blair)
US urges Tunisia to return to 'democratic path' .
Tunisia should swiftly return to its "democratic path", a top White House official on Saturday told President Kais Saied, days after his shock power grab that included suspending parliament. Saied on July 25 sacked premier Hichem Mechichi and suspended parliament for 30 days. He ordered a graft crackdown targeting 460 businessmen and an investigation into alleged illegal funding of political parties.The president's surprise move has plunged Tunisia into political turmoil.The US statement said the call "focused on the critical need for Tunisian leaders to outline a swift return to Tunisia's democratic path".