Tunisia

  1. Protests in Tunisia on anniversary of Ben Ali's fall

    Tunisians take part in a demonstration against President Kais Saied, on the 11th anniversary of the Tunisian revolution in the capital Tunis on January 14, 2022
    Image caption: The Tunisian revolution in 2011 sparked the Arab Spring

    Tunisian police have used water canons to disperse hundreds of protesters who have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the country's president, despite coronavirus restrictions.

    The protesters are unhappy with some of President Kaïs Saïed's recent measures including the suspension of parliament in July, which he extended in December.

    He has since ruled by decree.

    At Friday's protests, some of the people chanted "down with the coup" according to the AFP news agency.

    Despite fierce criticism other citizens have supported the president, saying he is tackling corruption.

    The country is marking 11 years on since the downfall of its late leader, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled the country in 2011 as his authority crumbled.

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  2. Video content

    Video caption: Tunisia's Ben Ali: The Dictator's Last Calls

    In exclusive, never heard before recordings believed to be of former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, BBC News Arabic reveals the anxious telephone calls that helped sea

  3. UN calls for release of ex-Tunisia justice minister

    The Newsroom

    BBC World Service

    Noureddine Bhiri
    Image caption: Noureddine Bhiri is in hospital under guard

    The UN is calling on the Tunisian authorities to either release or properly charge the country’s former justice minister.

    Noureddine Bhiri has been detained after being taken away from his home on 31 December for suspected terrorism offences.

    A second man was taken away and detained on the same day.

    “We urge the authorities to either promptly release or properly charge these two men in accordance with due process standards for criminal proceedings,” said Liz Throssell, a spokesperson for the UN human rights office, OHCHR.

    Tunisia’s President Kais Saied suspended parliament last July and began ruling by decree in a move opponents branded as a coup.

    Mr Bhiri, who initially went on hunger strike, remains in hospital under guard.

  4. Detained Tunisia ex-minister 'fighting for his life'

    The Newsroom

    BBC World Service

    Noureddine Bhiri
    Image caption: Noureddine Bhiri's party says he was abducted by security officers in civilian clothes

    Supporters of a former Tunisian justice minister say he’s fighting for his life after refusing food and medication since his arrest last week.

    Noureddine Bhiri, deputy chairman of the Islamist Ennahdha party, is accused of possible terrorism offences. His supporters deny the allegations.

    Mr Bhiri, who played a central role in Tunisian politics before President Kais Saied suspended parliament last July, is said to suffer from several serious pre-existing health problems.

    His Ennahdha party colleague, Samir Dilou, said medical sources had described the former minister as being “between life and death”.

  5. Tunisia ex-minister suspected of terrorism - ministry

    Noureddine Bhiri speaks at a past event
    Image caption: Noureddine Bhiri has refused food and medicine

    Tunisia's interior ministry has said a detained former justice minister is suspected of “terrorism”.

    Noureddine Bhiri of the Ennahdha party was detained over the weekend.

    He has refused food and medicine and was transferred to a hospital on Monday where he is reported to have continued with the hunger strike.

    Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine said on Monday that there were reports of acts of terrorism prompting the authorities to act.

    The Ennahdha party has been at crossroads with President Kais Saied after he sacked the prime minister and suspended parliament last year.

    A party member and activists have said Mr Bhiri’s health is at risk as he has a chronic illness and has been denied professional care.

    His wife is quoted by the AFP news agency saying that he had suffered a heart attack and that she was denied access to him.

  6. Hundreds rally in Tunisia on revolution anniversary

    Supporters of the "Citizens Against Coup" campaign demonstrate against President Kais Saied. One man is shouting
    Image caption: The president wants to hold a referendum on Tunisia's constitution

    There was a heavy police presence in part of the Tunisian capital on Friday morning as hundreds took to the streets to mark the 11th anniversary of the start of the revolution which saw the downfall of former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab spring.

    Opposition parties had called for mass protests on Friday, in a stand against recent measures announced by President Kais Saied, according to local media.

    Some of the president's supporters were also present, according to the AFP news agency.

    They held a banner which read: "We are with you to the end in the fight against corruption," along with a photo of the head of state, AFP reports.

    Mr Saied was elected in a landslide in 2019 promising to stand up against corruption, but has since caused controversy after he suspended parliament.

    In a televised national address on Monday, Mr Saied said that parliament would remain suspended until fresh elections in a year's time.

    Earlier this month Mr Saied switched the official anniversary of the revolution from 14 January to 17 December - the day in 2010 when a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire.

  7. Tunisian bid to overturn jailing of men for homosexuality

    BBC World Service

    The Newsroom

    Lawyers and human rights activists in Tunisia have lodged an appeal to overturn a one-year prison sentence against two men for homosexuality.

    Consensual sex between two people of the same sex - whether men or women - remains punishable in Tunisia by up to three years in jail under a law that dates back more than 100 years.

    The two men have taken their case to the country's top court after a lower court rejected their first appeal last year.

    Their lawyer says that if their case is successful, it could create a legal precedent that would help do away with Article 230 in the criminal code, which outlaws homosexual acts.

  8. Extension of Tunisia parliament's suspension rejected

    BBC World Service

    The Newsroom

    Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisias Islamist Ennahda party gives a speech to Ennahda supporters as they rallied outside the headquarters of the party, to celebrate victory in Tunisia's legislative election claimed after an exit poll by Sigma Conseil broadcasted by state television, in Tunis, Tunisia October 6, 2019
    Image caption: Rached Ghannouchi was elected parliamentary speaker in 2019

    The parliamentary speaker in Tunisia, Rached Ghannouchi, has said that he categorically rejects President Kais Saied's decision to suspend parliament for another year.

    Mr Ghannouchi - who heads the Islamist Ennahda party - said that the exceptional measures announced by the president must be cancelled immediately.

    He said it was the only way out of the crisis.

    In a televised national address on Monday, Mr Saied said that parliament would remain suspended until fresh elections in a year's time.

    He also said that before the election, a referendum on the constitution would be held in July.

  9. Tunisia president announces elections in a year

    Sebastian Usher

    BBC Arab Affairs Editor

    This picture taken on December 13, 2021 shows a television screen in Tunisia's capital Tunis displaying an announcement by Tunisian President Kais Saied,
    Image caption: Kais Saied's plan for a public consultation process begins next month

    Tunisian President Kais Saied has announced that parliament will remain suspended until fresh elections are held a year from now.

    In a national TV address, Mr Saied also laid out plans for a referendum on the constitution next year.

    Ever since he froze parliament and dismissed the then prime minister back in July, the Tunisian President Kais Saied has continued to cement his hold on power while stressing that his actions have been necessary to shake a corrupt political status quo and reinvigorate the failing economy.

    In a speech last month, Mr Saied talked of purifying state institutions as the only way to purify the country.

    To his supporters, this remains a persuasive message - but his opponents still believe that what he has done and is doing amounts to a political coup.

    Mr Saied's plan for a public consultation process to begin next month on constitutional reform will either please or further alarm each side in equal measure.

    In case his message wasn't clear enough, the president has set the date for a referendum on the constitution to take place next 25 July - exactly a year on from the day he staged his dramatic seizure of full executive power.

  10. One feared dead in Tunisian party headquarters fire

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    One person is believed to have died after a fire broke out in the offices of the Ennahda party in the Tunisian capital, Tunis.

    Videos shared on social media show smoke coming out of the windows and staff being evacuated by the fire brigade.

    Former Prime Minister Ali Laaridh, a senior official of the party, has been taken to hospital for treatment, his son said on social media.

    Mr Laaridh was seen jumping from the second floor of the building:

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    Police investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire, local media report.

    Ennahda is the largest party in parliament. The moderate Islamist party is a fierce opponent of President Kais Saied.

  11. Tunisia minister slammed over alleged book censorship

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    Tunisia book fair

    Tunisia's Culture Minister Hayat Ketata is under fire after books critical of the government were removed from the country’s international book fair.

    A book about Rached el-Ghanouchi, leader of Ennahdha party and a fierce critic of President Kais Saied, has been banned from exhibition.

    The organisers of the book fair also removed a book by Rabah Kheraifi about corruption in Tunisia. His book was described as "offensive" to the state.

    One opposition figure, Najib Chebbi, described the move as "shocking and dangerous", calling on the culture minister to go.

    He urged intellectuals to stand against this "regression".

    In July, President Saied suspended parliament in a move described by the opposition as coup and a violation of the constitution.

    He insisted he had acted within the constitution and vowed to "clean up" the country from corruption.

    Some politicians, lawyers, journalists and MPs critical of the president have since been arrested and jailed.

  12. Tunisia slaps arrest warrant on critical ex-president

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki
    Image caption: It is not clear what the charges against former president Moncef Marzouki are

    A Tunisian court has issued an arrest warrant against former president Moncef Marzouki, a strong opponent of the current President Kaïs Saïed.

    It is not clear what the charges against Mr Marzouki are.

    The president in October ordered a judicial inquiry into Mr Marzouki’s call for France to end its support to "Kaïs Saïed's dictatorial regime".

    President Kaïs Saïed had then suspended parliament, which his opponent described as a coup and a violation of the constitution.

    Several MPs, lawyers and politicians critical of the president have been arrested since then.

    Some TV channels and radio stations that are close to the opposition have also been shut down.

  13. 'Suspicious' tunnel near French ambassador's Tunis home

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    A tunnel has been discovered near the French ambassador’s residence in Tunis, originating from a house frequented by an extremist known to the police, local media have reported.

    The Interior Ministry said on Facebook security services had received intelligence about "suspicious activity" in a house in the Marsa area close to the ambassador’s residence, and they found a tunnel being dug.

    The anti-terrorist unit is undertaking further investigations, the ministry added.

    It is not known who has been digging the tunnel and for what reason, nor have French diplomats commented yet, according to the Reuters news agency.

  14. President's 'clean-up call' worries Tunisians

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    Kaïs Saïed
    Image caption: President Saïed was accused of a political coup earlier this year, when he sacked the prime minister and suspended parliament

    Tunisians on social media have expressed concern at President Kaïs Saïed's call for "the true Tunisian nationalists to clean up the country" from the those who "have embezzled the country’s funds".

    Speaking in a ministerial meeting, the president did not specify who were the "true nationalists" nor did he identify those who had "embezzled the country's funds".

    It is seen by many as a divisive move and a dangerous call for the president's supporters to harass his opponents.

    "This statement means setting up militias from 'the true nationalist' to clean up the country with violence and abduction. It is a call for civil war," wrote historian Mohamed Dhifallah on Twitter, in just one example.

    Mr Saïed has been under pressure from opposition parties and organisations in the country as well the international community to restore the democratic institutions in the country.

    Since suspending parliament last July lawyers, MPs, politicians and journalists have been arrested for taking a stand against the president's decisions. TV channels and radio stations critical of Mr Saïed have also been shut down.

  15. EU calls on Tunisian president to reopen parliament

    Tunisian President Kais Saied
    Image caption: President Kais Saied suspended the government in July

    The European Union has called on Tunisian President Kais Saied to restore democratic order in the country and reopen parliament.

    EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell told EU lawmakers during a parliamentary session that the Tunisian parliament “cannot stay closed indefinitely”.

    Mr Borrell urged the Tunisian president to set a clear timetable for the reopening of parliament.

    "It is crucial for the future of the country and for its domestic and international credibility that the president and the Tunisian authorities at all levels fully restore the constitutional and institutional order, including the activities of the parliament,” he said.

    Mr Saied suspended parliament in July and fired the prime minister in what his opponents said was a coup. He however enjoys the support of many Tunisians.

    Last week, Prime Minister Najla Bouden, whom Mr Saied appointed last month, announced a new cabinet – which has 10 women including the prime minister.