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Thousands protest in Tunis over President Saied’s raid on government institutions

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Opposition protesters have hit the streets in Tunis, capital city of Tunisia on Sunday in demonstration against President Kais Saied’s power grab and the economic crisis in the North African country.

Report says at least 2,000 people gathered in the city centre chanting – Poverty has increased”, and “Famine is at our doorsteps”

Protesters held up signs in English and French, reading “Tunisia wake up” and “Tunisian state is on the verge of collapse”.

Recall that slamreportafrica.com reported last Tuesday that “President Kais Saied has continued his “revolution” of government institutions in the North African country as he inaugurated a “temporary” council of judges to replace an independent watchdog that he abolished in early February.

Saied last July sacked the government, suspended parliament and moved to rule by decree, sparking fears for democracy in the birthplace of the 2011 Arab uprisings.

The latest demonstration was called by the Free Destourian Party which is led by staunchly anti-Islamist lawyer Abir Moussi.

“The government today is incapable of finding solutions for the Tunisian people… If we continue in silence, we will lose the country,” Moussi said in a speech during the demonstration.

She branded Tunisia’s current executive as “illegitimate” and called for legislative elections to be brought forward from their scheduled date of December.

Bearing a portrait of Moussi, protester Youssef Jabali told newsmen “Saied, the dictator, is shut off in his palace and the people can’t find semolina, flour, oil or sugar.”

Already plunged in an economic crisis, Tunisia has in recent weeks seen a shortage of staple foods, as the war in Ukraine threatens to interrupt key supplies to various Arab countries.

The authorities have attributed the shortages to panic buying ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, starting this year in April, when Muslims traditionally break a dawn-to-dusk fast with lavish family meals.

Saied on Wednesday declared a “relentless war” on food speculators and profiteers, accusing them of seeking to “strike at social peace and security”.

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Politics

Kenya’s Ruto sacks cabinet amidst protests in major win for protesters

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In response to pressure from widespread protests that have produced the greatest crisis of his two-year government, Kenyan President William Ruto dismissed his entire cabinet on Thursday, with the exception of the foreign minister.

After beginning peacefully, the youth-led demonstrations against the proposed tax increases descended into violence, resulting in at least 39 deaths during altercations with the police last month. A few protestors briefly invaded the parliament before Ruto decided against the new levies.

“I will immediately engage in extensive consultations across different sectors and political formations and other Kenyans, both in public and private, with the aim of setting up a broad-based government,” Ruto said in a televised address to the nation, adding that he would announce additional measures later.

In addition, he fired the attorney general but claimed that this had no bearing on the deputy president’s position.

Kenyans had been requesting significant cabinet changes, seasoned anti-corruption activist John Githongo told Reuters.

“Let us see what happens now if the new ministers deal with big issues around corruption and just the arrogance and excess of his administration and the fact that a lot of Kenyans died during the demonstrations,” he said.

“Hopefully this should temporarily calm things.”

Ruto finds himself torn between a beleaguered populace reeling from the rising expense of living and lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressuring him to reduce deficits. He suggested borrowing more money and cutting spending in approximately equal proportions last week to close the nearly $2.7 billion budget deficit left by the removal of the tax rises.

Although the government has no outstanding debt, many claim that Kenya is likely to miss its IMF targets as a result of the tax rollback. For the fiscal year that began on July 1, the estimated budget deficit is currently 4.6% of GDP.

Dismissing so many cabinet members, according to Ojango Omondi, a community organizer from the Social Justice Centers Working Group in Nairobi, was a “move towards justice,” but activists would want to see who Ruto chooses to replace them.

“It’s one thing to dismiss, the second is to ensure that the people that will be chosen in the cabinet are accountable to the constitution and the rule of law,” Omondi said.

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South Sudan’s president dismisses 6th finance minister since 2020

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Four months into the position, South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, has fired the finance minister, the sixth person to hold the position since 2020, according to state-run television.

The report stated late on Wednesday that Kiir did not explain the dismissal of Awow Daniel Chuong, who was appointed in mid-March of this year. Economist Marial Deng has been selected to take over as finance minister in Kiir’s place.

Due to intercommunal violence, South Sudan’s economy has been under strain recently. Since the civil war that lasted from 2013 to 2018, revenue from crude oil exports has decreased, and more recently, export disruptions have occurred because of the conflict in neighbouring Sudan.

The governor of the central bank, James Alic Garang, declared in May that the foreign exchange reserves of South Sudan had reached all-time lows.

This year, the International Monetary Fund predicts that consumer price inflation will soar to 54.8%.

After South Sudan separated from Sudan in 2011, Kiir was elected as the country’s first president.

In December, the nation is scheduled to elect a president, members of the legislature, and regional delegates.

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