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Tunisian protesters call for removal of President Saied for imposing one-man rule

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A political crisis is currently brewing in the North African country of Tunisia following days of protests as citizens have called for the removal of President Kais Saied, accusing him of imposing a one-man rule after he dissolved the parliament last month.

Protesters who call the imposition a coup, have been thronging the streets of the capital Tunis, accusing Saied of a ‘failed-dictatorship‘ after more than half of the members of parliament held an online session to revoke Saied’s decrees last month.

“We are facing a failed dictatorship that is leading the country to an economic disaster. We will continue to protest in the streets until a coup is forced to reverse its decisions,” an activist and a leader of the protesters, Chaima Issa, wrote on social media.

Many members of parliament also participated in the protest on Sunday, which took place with a heavy presence of anti-riot police, with the protesters chanting: “The people want to overthrow the coup.”

“We will continue to resist the coup and we will not retreat. We will not accept this dictatorship,” Samira Chaouchi, one of two deputy speakers of parliament, said.

Saied, took control of executive power in the middle of last year and has continued to rule the country by decree, which his opponents describe as a coup against democratic norms.

He has rejected opponents accusations and said he would hold talks on political reforms, but that “traitors and thieves” would not participate, referring to members of parliament opposed to his regime.

Saied has previously said he would form a committee to rewrite the constitution, put it to a referendum in July and then hold parliamentary elections in December.

The country’s two main parties Ennahda and Free Constitutional, have both said they will oppose those plans.

Politics

South African judge, Piet Koen, to ‘rescue’ self from ex-president Jacob Zuma case

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The trial judge in the corruption case of former South African President Jacob Zuma has announced at a hearing that he would recuse himself from the case.

Judge Piet Koen, in the Pietermaritzburg court (southeast) during a televised hearing said “I have come to the conclusion that I must recuse myself from the trial. This is what the proper administration of justice, the Constitution, and my conscience dictates.”

In July 2021, the former President was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment after repeatedly ignoring a court order to testify at a government inquiry into large-scale corruption during his tenure as president.

Mr. Zuma has been lobbying for the recusal of the chief prosecutor in the trial, Billy Downer, whom he accuses of bias. Last year, Judge Koen rejected this request.

“If Justice Koen does not continue the trial, a new judge will have to sit,” Cathy Powell, a constitutional scholar at the University of Cape Town, told AFP. The trial would then have to “start from the beginning”, the lawyer fears.

Zuma’s corruption trial began in May 2021, with numerous with the 80-year-old politician accused of taking bribes from the French defense group Thales in a case that dates back more than 20 years ago.

He has been charged with 16 counts of fraud, corruption, and racketeering. Thales is also charged with corruption and money laundering.

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Tunisian opposition coalition wants united front to challenge President Saied sit-tight reign

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The opposition coalition in North African country, Tunisia is calling for a united front to challenge President Kais Saied’s sit-tight reign in the country.

Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, head of the National Salvation Front, said “I call on all those who are part of the political movement and those who are in the civil movement to rise to this new challenge (ahead of us). Let’s join hands to work for change, in the form of Kais Saied’s departure.”

“Almost 90 percent, or rather 89 percent, of Tunisian voters, ignored this farce and refused to be involved in this coup d’état scenario that does not represent them at all,” he exclaimed.

Again voter turnout was low at the second round of the just concluded parliamentary in Tunisia with just 11.3 percent of voters have taken part in the poll. Official initial results after voting ended in Tunisia, Sunday (Jan. 29).

The electoral board chief Farouk Bouasker said 887,638 out of more than 7.8 million registered voters had taken part in the poll, which followed December’s widely boycotted first round.

According to the electoral board’s initial figures, just five percent of those who voted were aged under 26, and more than two-thirds were men.

Voter turnout for the first round of the parliamentary elections in December was only 11%, prompting widespread ridicule among Saied’s opponents and new demands by the powerful labour union that he changes tack.

President Saied sacked the government, suspended parliament, and seized a string of powers in July 2021.

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