Tunis, Feb 18 (EFE).- Thousands of supporters of Tunisia’s main trade union marched on Saturday in several parts of the country against the government’s economic policy and “attacks on freedoms” by president Kais Said.
“The UGTT cannot leave the country in the hands of a single decision-maker and a Constitution drafted only by the president of the Republic to build a new dictatorship,” the union’s deputy secretary general, Taher Barbari said.
In what opponents say amounted to a coup, Said ended months of political deadlock in July 2021 by sacking the prime minister and dissolving parliament, before enacting a new constitution that was approved last year despite nearly a 70% abstention rate.
The powerful union, which initially supported the president’s intervention when he gave himself full powers on July 25, 2021, has hardened its tone to the point of calling for mobilizations following the arrest this month of one of its leaders.
The federation “is experiencing a new stage in its history after several trade unionists were besieged, arrested and imprisoned for their union activities,” said Hafed Hafed, another of the deputy general secretaries.
The campaign of arrests escalated last weekend when, in just three days, 10 prominent personalities were arrested, among them the director of one of the main Tunisian radio stations and the former Minister of Justice and vice-president of the Islamist Ennahda party, Noureddine Bhiri.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Parliament have expressed their concerns over the growing persecution of opponents and called for an immediate halt to the military trials against civilians. EFE