Tunisia: Protests Build Momentum, Fall Short of Unifying Opposition

by | Mar 5, 2023 | Political, Tunisia


Over the weekend of 4 and 5 March 2023, two major protests were held, first by the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT) on Saturday and second by the National Salvation Front (NSF) on Sunday. Turnout for both protests were larger than recent events and were conducted peacefully for the most part. A significant number of security forces and riot police were present in downtown Tunis along Avenue Habib Bourghiba, with only a few minor clashes reported with protestors. The NSF held their protest despite having been denied a permit by the government.

The protestors expressed concern over President Kais Saied’s reform program, as well as recent detentions of opposition figures viewed as politically motivated. Many protestors also spoke out against the recent comments by the President regarding black Africans and the racially motivated violence that has increased dramatically in Tunisia in recent days.

Prior to the protest on Saturday, the UGTT announced that a Spanish labor organizer had been prevented from entering the country. Marco Perez Molina was prevented from entering Tunisia at the airport and was declared persona non grata. This follows the expulsion of another European labor organizer who partnered with the UGTT at a protest in Sfax and was then declared persona non grata by the administration.


The weekend protests demonstrated greater cohesion between opposition parties but failed to achieve mass mobilization. While there is growing frustration among Tunisians about the political and economic situation, many remain open, if not loyal, to the President and his efforts to reform the country. Our team will be watching to see if the opposition can achieve further cohesion and muster additional demonstrations in the future that could lead to unrest.


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