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August 10, 2022

Tunisia President sacks interior minister over protests

Unionists want inquiry into demonstrators’ deaths.

TUNIS – Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has dismissed his interior minister and ordered the release of most of those detained during recent protests, BBC informs.

He has also created a special committee to investigate corruption and the actions of some officials, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi has said. Ahmed Friaa will replace Rafik Belhaj Kacem at the interior ministry.

Earlier, troops were deployed in the capital after fresh protests about unemployment and poverty in a suburb. Human rights activists, meanwhile, said a strike had been called in Kasserine, a region at the centre of the unrest.

A trade union official told the BBC that all workers in Kasserine were observing the strike call. It has not been possible to verify this claim.

In disturbances in the region’s capital on Tuesday, residents said a number of protesters had been shot dead by police snipers. The police said they had fired warning shots and only acted in self defence.
Officials say 21 people have been killed since the protests began in the south of the country in mid-December, but human rights and trade union activists believe the number of dead to be at least 50.
People taking part in the demonstrations say they are angry about unemployment, poverty, corruption and government repression. President Ben Ali has said the riots are a “terrorist act” orchestrated by foreign forces to damage Tunisia.

A Tunisian workers union called on President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali to order an independent inquiry into the deaths of demonstrators protesting high unemployment and poor living conditions in Tunisia, CNN reported on Wednesday.

Union sources said the death toll had exceeded 50 since mid-December, but Minister of Information Samir Abidi said approximately 21 people were killed.

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