Tag Archives: Tunisia

Reform calls amid Tunisia’s massive year jail term over use of Cannabis.

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..since the outcry over the three men sentenced last month, several MPs have come out in favour of reforming Law 52.

Thirty years’ jail for smoking a joint after a football game? Tunisia has seen calls for reforms to dictatorship-era drug laws after a court handed down heavy sentences to three young men.

Tunisians have taken to social media to demand changes to the law after the court in the northern city of Kef issued the sentence last month.

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A fourth man, arrested when he got back to his car, was sentenced to five years in jail but has not been imprisoned, according to the lawyer for the group, Molka Bouderbala.

She said the four — among them one employee and two small business owners, all aged in their 30s — had shared a joint in a disused locker room after a football match between friends.

They faced heavier penalties because they were caught in a public place, a court spokesman told AFP.

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“The judge applied the existing law blindly,” Bouderbala said, adding that her clients, who had previously been sentenced for similar offences, had lodged an appeal.

Thousands of Tunisian youth are incarcerated every year on drug charges, with little in the way of prevention, rehabilitation or alternative punishment, in a country where around a third of young people are unemployed.

A cannabis seedling is seen at the Government Pharmaceuticals Organisation (GPO) medicinal marijuana greenhouse outside Chon Buri, south of Bangkok on October 8, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

Zero tolerance
According to the current legislation, known as Law 52, possession of drugs for personal use is punishable by one to five years in prison, while dealing attracts 10 years’ jail.

But when considered organised crime, the penalties can go up to life behind bars.

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The former regime of autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali — ousted from power in Arab Spring protests a decade ago — enacted the law in 1992 in a bid to show the world it had a zero-tolerance approach to drugs.

The move came the same year that Moncef Ben Ali, the former leader’s brother, was sentenced in absentia in France to 10 years in prison over the so-called “Couscous Connection” case, involving international cocaine and heroin trafficking.

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“The motivation was above all political — the goal was not to try to reduce consumption,” said Bochra Belhaj Hmida, a lawyer and former member of parliament.

The law is applied unfairly, she added, because “young people who have the means get out of trouble by paying the police”.

The lawyer said she supported changing the drug laws, which she said generated corruption and worsened inequality, and criticised a lack of political will due “conservatism” and “ignorance” on the matter.

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‘Excessive penalties’
Limited drug law reform was adopted in 2017. It allowed judges to consider extenuating circumstances rather than sentencing all small-time users to prison time.

Since then, penalties for drug use “are very often fines or suspended sentences, at least in courts in the capital”, said lawyer Ghazi Mrabet.

But since the outcry over the three men sentenced last month, several MPs have come out in favour of reforming Law 52.

Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, faced with strong dissatisfaction over the government’s response to recent social unrest, said Monday that “excessive penalties” for drug use were counterproductive and called for “alternatives” to prison.

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But it remains to be seen whether Tunisia’s highly divided parliament, with a strong conservative make-up, will be able to enact reforms.

While awaiting an in-depth debate, lawyer Mrabet said there was an urgent need to “revoke articles that always, in certain cases, require incarceration for simple drug use” — and to give judges greater leeway to pass alternative sentences.

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#Newsworthy

Tunisia President Kais Saied’s aide, hospitalised.

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Authorities have launched an investigation to analyse the contents of the envelope and are awaiting the results, Tunis prosecutor Mohsen Dali said.

The Tunisian president’s chief of staff has been hospitalised after handling a suspicious letter addressed to head of state Kais Saied, his office said Thursday, suggesting an attempted poisoning.

Nadia Akacha had opened the envelope addressed to Saied but found it empty and later suffered from short-term vision loss and headaches, and was briefly hospitalised, according to a statement from the presidency.

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She was discharged on Wednesday but is still suffering from headaches and is being monitored by doctors, the statement said.

Another employee, who was in the same room with Akacha when she opened the envelope, had similar symptoms but of lesser intensity, it added.

Tunisian media suggested the letter may have contained ricin, a poison that can be lethal in high doses.

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The presidency did not say when the incident occurred but stressed that Saied did not come into contact with the envelope — which was eventually destroyed — and was in good health.

There were no suspects so far, he added.

Tensions are high in Tunisia, following wrangling over a cabinet reshuffle and growing unrest that has seen protesters take to the streets to demonstrate against poverty, unemployment and police repression.

Saied has said he was not consulted about Tuesday’s reshuffle, during which Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi named 11 new ministers to the interior, justice, health and other key portfolios.

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The president, an independent academic, has charged that one of the ministers was involved in a corruption case and that three others were suspected of conflicts of interest.

The political tensions also involve a power struggle between Saied and the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha movement, which came out on top in October 2019 parliamentary elections.

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#Newsworthy

Tunisia Gov’t reshuffles cabinet after protesters clash with Police.

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Islamist-inspired Ennahdha came top in the polls but fell far short of a majority and eventually agreed to join a coalition government.

Hundreds of anti-government protesters faced off against riot police outside the Tunisian parliament Tuesday as lawmakers inside confirmed a cabinet reshuffle amid growing unrest.

Mired in a political and economic crisis worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, the North African country has been rocked by a wave of anger at a political class seen as obsessed with power struggles and disconnected from the suffering of ordinary people.

Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi told the assembly that by naming 11 new ministers to the interior, justice, health and other key portfolios, he aimed to create a “more effective” reform team.

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He faced opposition from President Kais Saied, however, who said he was not consulted. Saied charged that one of the proposed ministers was involved in a corruption case and that three others were suspected of conflicts of interest.

Mechichi said the new cabinet would listen to the demands of the protesters.

Security forces have carried out mass arrests during more than a week of night-time riots and daytime protests against police repression, poverty, inequality and corruption.

Tunisia has often been praised as a rare success story for its democratic transition after the Arab Spring regional uprisings sparked by its 2011 revolution.

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But many Tunisians are angered by a political class seen as disconnected from the suffering of the poor, amid high unemployment and spiralling prices.

“Poverty is growing, hunger is growing,” read one sign carried by the protesters, while another demanded “Dignity and freedom for working-class neighbourhoods”.

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‘Threat of the baton’
The session came a day after protesters clashed with police in the town of Sbeitla, in Tunisia’s marginalised centre, after a young man hit by a tear gas canister last week died in hospital.

Some chanted slogans against the government and Ennahdha, the biggest party in parliament.

But police forces stopped demonstrators from gathering at the usual square in front of the parliament.

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“The politicians are producing the same strategies that until now have only led to failure,” said Yosra Frawes, head of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women.

“They must change their governance model or step down.”

Some lawmakers criticised the heavy security deployment around the assembly and called for further dialogue.

One complained of a vote held “under police siege” and said: “All that’s missing is to vote under the threat of the baton.”

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Some members of the opposition-held up pictures of the young man who was killed.

An AFP correspondent said there were clashes between police and demonstrators on Tuesday on the sidelines of his funeral.

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Protests have been held in defiance of a coronavirus-related ban on gatherings and a night-time curfew recently extended until February 14.

The virus has killed more than 6,000 people in Tunisia and wreaked havoc on an already struggling economy.

Fragile alliances
Tunisia’s politics have also been turbulent and seen a deepening rift between the prime minister and head of state.

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President Saied — an independent academic who has criticised parliamentary democracy — has been seeking to reposition himself at the centre of an unstable political scene.

The task of forming a government has become more difficult since elections in October 2019 resulted in a parliament split among myriad parties and fragile alliances.

Mechichi’s outgoing cabinet was sworn in in September after the previous executive, the second since the polls, resigned in July.

Mechichi had initially put together a team including civil servants and academics, some close to the president.

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But he gradually moved away from Saied, and made changes with the support of Ennahdha, which is allied with the liberal Qalb Tounes party and Islamist group Karama.

Saied has threatened to block the swearing-in of some new ministers, a move that could aggravate animosities that have paralysed political action.

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#Newsworthy

Tunisia police arrest over 600 rioters

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The key tourism sector, already on its knees after a string of deadly jihadist attacks in 2015, has been dealt a devastating blow by the pandemic.

More than 600 people have been arrested and troops have been deployed after a third consecutive night of riots in several Tunisian cities, officials said Monday.

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The unrest came after Tunisia imposed a nationwide lockdown to stem a rise in coronavirus infections on Thursday — the same day as it marked the 10th anniversary of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s fall from power.

Interior ministry spokesman Khaled Hayouni said a total of 632 people were arrested, notably “groups of people between the ages of 15, 20 and 25 who burned tyres and bins in order to block movements by the security forces”.

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Defence ministry spokesman Mohamed Zikri meanwhile said the army has deployed reinforcements in several areas of the country.

Hayouni said that some of those arrested lobbed stones at police and clashed with security forces.

“This has nothing to do with protest movements that are guaranteed by the law and the constitution,” said Hayouni.

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“Protests take place in broad daylight normally… without any criminal acts involved,” he added.

Hayouni said two policemen were wounded in the unrest.

It was not immediately clear if there were injuries among the youths and Hayouni did not say what charges those arrested faced.

The clashes took place in several cities across Tunisia, mostly in working-class neighbourhoods, with the exact reasons for the disturbances not immediately known.

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But it came as many Tunisians are increasingly angered by poor public services and a political class that has repeatedly proved unable to govern coherently a decade on from the 2011 revolution.

GDP shrank by nine percent last year, consumer prices have spiralled and one-third of young people are unemployed.

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Tunisia has registered more than 177,000 coronavirus infections, including over 5,600 deaths since the pandemic erupted last year.

The four-day lockdown ended on Sunday night, but it was not immediately know if other restrictions would be imposed.

No ‘future here’
The army has deployed troops in Bizerte in the north, Sousse in the east and Kasserine and Siliana in central Tunisia, the defence ministry spokesman said.

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Sousse, a coastal resort overlooking the Mediterranean, is a magnet for foreign holidaymaking that has been hit hard by the pandemic.

The health crisis and ensuing economic misery have pushed growing numbers of Tunisians to seek to leave the country.

On Sunday evening in Ettadhamen, a restive working-class neighbourhood on the edge of the Tunisian capital, the mood was sombre.

“I don’t see any future here,” said Abdelmoneim, a waiter, as the unrest unfolded around him.

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He blamed the violence on the country’s post-revolution political class and said the rioting youths were “bored adolescents” who reflected the “failure” of politicians.

Abdelmoneim said he was determined to take a boat across the Mediterranean to Europe “as soon as possible, and never come back to this miserable place”.

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#Newsworthy

Tunisia Boat Mishap: Twenty bodies reportedly recovered

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Tunisia is just a few hundred kilometres (miles) from mainland Europe, and has long been a launchpad for illegal migration to the continent.

Tunisia’s coastguard on Thursday retrieved the bodies of 20 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa after their boat capsized at sea, a spokesman for the defence ministry said.

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Five other migrants who were on board were rescued, ministry spokesman Mohamed Zekri told AFP, adding that a search operation was underway.

Zekri did not give further details, but said the rescue operation took place off the port of Sfax in central Tunisia.

Khaled Hayouni, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said the boat was heading to Italy from the Sidi Mansour district of Sfax when it sank.

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More than 40 people were on board the makeshift boat, Mourad Turki, a spokesman for the Sfax court, told AFP.

He said that some of the 20 bodies recovered were taken to a Sfax hospital for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Departures by desperate migrants seeking a new life in Europe peaked in 2011, following the revolution that overthrew Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Although numbers have dropped significantly in recent years, illegal crossings from Tunisia to Europe jumped by more than 150 percent in January to April compared to the same period last year, according to the UN refugee agency.

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Many of the migrants are from sub-Saharan African countries fleeing economic hardship and crisis at home.

According to the interior ministry, 8,581 migrants were intercepted after setting off on the perilous Mediterranean crossing between.

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#Newsworthy

U.S. defense sec, Mark Esper arrives Tunisia on tour to North Africa.

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US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived Wednesday in Tunisia, his first stop on a North Africa tour where he was set to reaffirm US engagement in the Maghreb region.

As the raging conflict in neighbouring Libya has attracted foreign jihadists and world powers backing rival sides, Washington has increasingly cooperated with the Tunisian military, particularly on counter-terror operations.

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Esper was set to meet President Kais Saied and Defence Minister Ibrahim Bartagi before delivering a speech at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, where over 2,800 American soldiers were buried, most of them killed during World War II.

Washington in 2015 classified Tunisia as a Major Non-NATO Ally, allowing for reinforced military cooperation.

Since 2011, it has invested more than $1 billion in the Tunisian military, according to Washington’s Africa command, Africom.

The US armed forces organised a military air display in March on the southern island of Djerba.

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Tunisia in 2016 denied a Washington Post report that it had allowed the US to operate drones from its territory for missions in Libya against the Islamic State group.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper addresses reporters during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

But a court martial in 2017 in a case of sexual harassment by an American officer, reported in the US defence press, publicly confirmed the presence of an American squadron operating drones from within a Tunisian base in the northern region of Bizerte.

This May, the head of Africom said the US would send more troops to the country in light of the deteriorating situation in Libya, triggering an outcry in Tunisia.

Africom later clarified that it was only deploying “a small training unit” that would not engage in combat missions, and the Tunisian government said there were no plans for an American base in the country.

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Esper, during his Tunisia visit, was due to warn of growing Russian and Chinese influence on the continent, according to a US official speaking before the trip.

The other goal of the visit was to reinforce ties and discuss the threat of jihadists such as the Islamic State group, the official said.

Esper was set to visit neighbouring Algeria on Thursday, becoming the first US defense secretary to do so since Donald Rumsfeld in 2006.

Esper will then head to Morocco, the other US Major Non-NATO Ally in the Maghreb region.


#Newsworthy..

Tunisia leader, Kais Saied supports hanging amid woman’s murder uproar

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Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has said he backs capital punishment after public outrage over a woman’s murder sparked calls for executions to restart following a three-decade-long pause.

“Anyone who kills a person for no reason deserves the death penalty,” Saied told the nation’s security council late Monday, according to a video posted by the presidency.

Tunisia carried out its last hanging in 1991, according to Amnesty International, but death by hanging remains on the statute books of the North African nation.

Presidential candidate Kais Saied speaks as he attends a news conference after the announcement of the results in the first round of Tunisia’s presidential election in Tunis, Tunisia September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed/File Photo

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Convicts have regularly been handed death sentences in recent years — mainly in trials related to national security — but a moratorium on carrying out the punishment has been in place.

“Each society has its choices, we have our principles, and the text is there,” Saied added.

A recent murder revived the debate on the death penalty.

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The body of a 29-year-old woman, who had vanished after leaving work, was discovered last week near a highway that runs from the capital Tunis to the suburb of Marsa.

A man was swiftly arrested and confessed to killing her and stealing her phone, according to the interior ministry.

The justice ministry said that the suspect had previously been accused in an earlier murder case that was dismissed, without giving further details.

“If it is proven that he has killed one or more people, I don’t think the solution is … not to apply the death penalty,” Saied added.


#Newsworthy…

Breaking: Tunisian leader, Kais Saied condemns resort attack.

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Tunisian President Kais Saied on Sunday condemned the attack in the coastal resort town of Sousse that killed one security officer and injured another.

Three suspected Islamic militants who rammed their vehicle into security officers and attacked them with knives were shot dead by Tunisian forces, authorities said Sunday.

“I do not know the intentions, the arrangements, of those who carried out this terrorist act, but they did not succeed in the past and will not succeed in the future,” Saied said.

Saied spoke to journalists during a short visit to the coastal town.

An Interior Ministry statement said the assailants took refuge in a school after the attack and died in a shootout with security forces.

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The North African nation’s prime minister, Hicham Mechichi, appeared to suggest that the assailants’ planning may have been faulty.

The previous attack in Sousse on June 26, 2015, dealt a heavy blow to Tunisia’s tourism sector, a pillar of its economy.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack.

The story at length
Tunisian forces shot dead three suspected Islamic militants who rammed their vehicle into security officers and attacked them with knives, killing one and injuring another in the coastal resort town of Sousse, authorities said Sunday.

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Police officers and forensic workers could be seen examining the site after the attack.

Sousse was the site of Tunisia’s deadliest extremist attack in 2015, when a massacre killed 38 people, most of them British tourists.

An Interior Ministry statement said Sunday that the assailants took refuge in a school after the attack and died in a shootout with security forces.

The North African nation’s prime minister, Hicham Mechichi, appeared to suggest that the assailants’ planning may have been faulty.

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He also announced the arrest of a fourth suspect who had been aboard the vehicle that rammed the National Guard officers.

Hatem Zargouni, director of security for Sousse, said the assailants stabbed the officers and then fled with their weapons.

The injured officer was hospitalized.

The previous attack in Sousse on June 26, 2015, dealt a heavy blow to Tunisia’s tourism sector, a pillar of its economy.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack.


#Newsworthy…

Three Assailants, Officer killed in Tunisia resort attack.

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The attack took place in the coastal resort town of Sousse, where a gunman killed 38 people in 2015.

Tunisian forces shot dead three assailants who rammed their vehicle into security officers and attacked them with knives, killing one officer and injuring another in the coastal resort town of Sousse.

Sousse was the site of Tunisia’s deadliest attack in 2015 when a gunman killed 38 people, most of them British tourists.

A patrol of two National Guard officers was targeted in the knife attack on Sunday in Sousse, 140km (87 miles) south of the capital Tunis, said National Guard spokesman Houcem Eddine Jebabli.

“One died as a martyr and the other was wounded and is hospitalised,” he said, adding “this was a terrorist attack.”

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The attackers first rammed the gendarmes with a vehicle at about 6:40am (05:40 GMT).

After the knife attack, security forces pursued the assailants who took the officers’ guns and vehicle through the Akouda district of the city’s tourist area of El-Kantaoui, said Jebabli.

“In a firefight, three terrorists were killed,” he said, adding security forces “managed to recover” the car and two pistols the assailants had stolen.

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The North African nation’s prime minister, Hicham Mechichi, appeared to suggest the assailants’ planning might have been faulty.

Attackers with knives killed a Tunisian National Guard officer and wounded another before three assailants were shot dead [Bechir Taieb/AFP]

Speaking in Sousse at the site of the attack, he announced the arrest of a fourth suspect who had been on board the vehicle that rammed the National Guard officers.

“These terrorist groups wanted to signal their presence,” he said. “But they got the wrong address this time. The clearest proof of that is that the authors of this attack were eliminated in a few minutes.”

Tunisian President Kais Saied, on a visit hours later to the sealed-off scene of the knife attack, said police were investigating whether it was planned “by individuals or an organisation”.

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Struggling to rebound
The previous attack in Sousse on June 26, 2015, dealt a heavy blow to Tunisia’s tourism sector, a pillar of its economy.

The ISIL (ISIS) armed group had claimed responsibility for that attack.

Aymen Rezgui, a Tunisian student who trained with Libyan fighters, walked onto the beach of the Imperial Hotel and used an assault rifle to shoot at tourists in lounge chairs. He then continued onto the hotel pool before throwing a grenade into the hotel. He was later killed by police.

The year 2015 was a particularly bloody one with three deadly attacks claimed by ISIL. An assault at the capital’s Bardo National Museum in March 2015 had killed 21 foreign tourists and a security guard. In November that year, a bus bombing in central Tunis had killed 12 presidential guards.

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While the situation has significantly improved since then, Tunisia has maintained a state of emergency.

Assaults on security forces have persisted, mainly in remote areas along the border with Algeria.

Last week, Tunisia’s parliament approved a new technocratic government led by Mechichi, which faces the task of tackling deep social and economic woes in the North African country.

The 46-year-old premier pledged to revitalise the economy, including the crucial tourism sector, which had rebounded after the attacks but has been hit hard this year by the coronavirus pandemic.


#Newsworthy…

Storyline: Tunisia cabinet wins confidence vote.

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Tunisia’s parliament has granted its vote of confidence to the new cabinet led by Prime Minister-designate Hichem Mechichi.

A total of 134 deputies voted in favor of forming the cabinet in a vote in parliament which lasted more than 14 hours.

The cabinet would be the third Tunisia has seen since October and the ninth since the revolution that brought down the North African autocratic regime in 2011 and triggered Arab Spring uprisings across the region.

The parliament voted down a previous prime minister-designate earlier this year after a marathon debate.

  • Prime MInister Designate Hichem Mechichi’s Speech-

During his speech to parliament, Mechichi discussed reducing tax evasion and supporting institutions affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mechichi, 46, is a former interior minister and lawyer who studied in Tunisia and France.

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He proposed a government with 25 ministers and three secretaries of state that includes seven women and a blind man.

If the government had been rejected, the president Kais Saied would have been obliged to dissolve parliament and call a new election but this surely has been avoided by the confidence vote.

Mechichi, was not nominated by any party but President Saied appointed him as premier last month after Elyes Fakhfakh resigned from the post over allegations of a conflict of interest.

Mechichi’s cabinet should take an oath in front of President Kais Saied later this week.


#Newsworthy…

Breaking: Tunisian parliament approves third gov’t within one year.

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Hichem Mechichi confirmed as PM after his technocrat-dominated cabinet wins backing from nearly two-thirds of deputies.


Tunisia’s Parliament has approved Prime Minister-designate Hichem Mechichi’s government – the country’s third administration in less than a year.

Following a 15-hour session that started on Tuesday, Mechichi’s cabinet – dominated by independent technocrats – won 134 votes out of the 217 members of parliament.

A former interior minister, Mechichi replaces Elyes Fakhfakh, whose government stayed in power for just five months before he resigned as prime minister last month after questions over his business dealings.

Mechichi proposed a government with 25 ministers and three secretaries of state that includes seven women and a blind man – a first in the country’s history.

The 46-year-old has pledged to enact policies seen as critical to revitalising a tourism-reliant sluggish economy that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

He gathered the ministries of finance, investment and economy into a single department led by liberal economist Ali Kooli, chief executive of Arab Banking Corporation in Tunisia.

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After the vote, Mechichi said his government would be able to “move forward” provided it was not bogged down in political tensions.

Before the session, which was held amid a tussle for influence between President Kais Saied and the main parties, Mechichi defended his nominations in an address to lawmakers.

He said the deteriorating situation in the country calls for competent figures who can intervene quickly and effectively to find solutions to the various problems and challenges.

“The government formation comes at a time of political instability and the people’s patience has reached its limit,” he said.

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The new government would focus on “social and economic questions and respond to the urgent concerns of Tunisians,” he added.

‘Reform this government’
Tunisia’s Parliament is deeply divided and many lawmakers were angry that Mechichi bypassed the main political factions in building his cabinet.

Mechichi proposed a government with 25 ministers and three secretaries of state that includes seven women and a blind man [Riadh Dridi/AP Photo] [The Associated Press]

Mechichi, a lawyer by training, named judges, academics, public servants and business executives to his cabinet.

Ennahdha, the largest parliamentary force, and others had instead demanded a “political” government that reflects the balance of parties and factions in parliament.

But hours before the vote, the self-styled Muslim Democrats said they would back Mechichi “despite reservations”.

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Abdelkarim Harouni, chairman of Ennahdha’s advisory board, said the party would offer its support “given the difficult situation of the country” but would then seek to “develop and reform this government”.

Tunisia has been praised as a rare success story for the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region in 2011, bringing down its longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

But it is now mired in social and economic crisis, with the official unemployment rate at 18 percent, and in need of new assistance from the International Monetary Fund.

Tunisia’s tourism-dependent economy shrank 21.6 percent in the second quarter of 2020, compared with the same period last year, due to the coronavirus crisis.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Remain Cautious – Health Minister Urges. [Tunisia]

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Tunisia on Monday urged continued vigilance against the novel coronavirus, a day after recording no new cases for the first time since March 2 as it eases strict lockdown measures.

The country’s overall toll stood at 1 032 cases on Sunday, the same as the previous day, with 45 deaths – unchanged for several days – and 700 recoveries.

But Health Minister Abdellatif Mekki urged caution despite the encouraging figure.

“It’s true that it boosts morale, but there could be a return of cases tomorrow,” he told the health committee of the North African country’s parliament.

He called on Tunisians to continue respecting hygiene and social distancing measures.

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Tunisia closed its schools, places of worship and non-essential shops in mid-March, despite having recorded fewer than 20 cases of the Covid-19 illness.

It began a partial easing of the lockdown in late April, although schools will largely remain closed until September.

Hairdressers officially opened on Monday, while cafés and mosques are due to reopen on 24 May.

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A broader relaxation is planned for June 14 but will depend on how the health situation develops, officials have said, warning of the risk of a second wave of infection.

But one key metric indicated that the spread of the virus was slowing down – since late April, Covid-19 patients have each been infecting an average of less than one other person.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: Cases in Tunisia exceed 900.


>>> Saudi Arabia ends flogging as punishment <<<


Saudi Arabia has ended the archaic punishment of flogging convicts, according to a directive by the General Commission for the Supreme Court.

Alarabiya.net reported that the courts will now limit punishments to jail time or fines.

The elimination of flogging is the latest step taken by the Kingdom to modernise the judicial system.

Under Sharia, flogging falls under the category of Tazir, punishment dispensed for offences not specified in the Quran or Hadith.


>>> Tunisia’s COVID-19 cases reach 922 <<<


The Tunisian Ministry of Health reported 4 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of the infected to 922 in the country.

“Following a total of 438 lab tests, 34 cases tested positive, of which four were new cases and 30 were previously confirmed cases who were still infected with this virus,” said the ministry in a statement on Friday night.

A total of 194 patients have recovered in Tunisia while 38 deaths were reported in 13 provinces, according to the statement.

“The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients reached 110, including 20 patients in intensive care units,” it said.

According to official figures, a total of 19,849 lab tests have been carried out since March 2, the date of the first COVID-19 case in Tunisia.


>>> 545 total COVID-19 cases in ‘Senegal’ <<<


Senegalese Ministry of Health and Social Action, on Friday reported 66 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 545 in the country.

Among the 528 virological examinations carried out within the past 24 hours, 66 came back positive, including 61 follow-up contact cases and five cases of community transmission, Senegalese health minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr announced during the daily COVID-19 briefing.

According to him, five more patients tested negative after treatments, bringing the total number of cured to 262. But he also said there is one patient “in critical condition”.

Of the 545 confirmed cases, 400 are close contacts cases, 85 are imported ones and 60 are due to community transmission. Six patients have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Minister Sarr revealed vendors are among the most exposed to COVID-19 in Senegal, and insisted on mandatory wearing of masks in markets and other public places.

“In the context of case detection, I asked my services to considerably increase the number of samples taken per day, in order to allow the identification of a maximum of asymptomatic carriers”, he added.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Tunisia confirms 6th case.


Tunisia has recorded sixth confirmed case of the deadly coronavirus disease, the country’s health ministry announced on Tuesday.

According to info gathered by NobleReporters, head of Primary Health Care Department at the Ministry of Health, Chokri Hamouda, said 44 tests were carried out on Tuesday and one was identified positive for the virus.


The ministry informed that the new case was detected in the district of Boumerdes in the province of Mahdia on the east coast of Tunisia.

The sixth case is said to be a relative of the second case, a 65-year-old Tunisian who returned from Italy and had also infected his wife.


#Newsworthy…