A protester in Tunisia who got injured in recent clashes with police died on Monday night. The protester’s death occurred ahead of a Cabinet meeting which is focused on the previously announced reshuffle and the country’s ongoing political crisis.
Calls from activists, several political parties and the major trade unions have been made to thousands of followers to protest the death of the 20-year-old protester, Haykel Rachdi.
As MPs meet to vote on new ministers appointed in a sweeping Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, the protesters will also gather outside the Parliament.
While speaking to local media, Richard’s family said the 20-year-old was struck with a tear gas canister after he joined protests in his home town of Sbeitla that erupted this month on the anniversary of Tunisia’s 2011 revolution.
The state news agency TAP, reports that The Public Prosecutor’s office in nearby Kasserine, which is about three hours south of the capital, has ordered a post-mortem to determine the cause of Rachdi’s death.
A group of young men tried to storm and torch the local police station after news of his death broke, TAP reported.
A joint statement by Tunisia’s civil society organisations said thousands are expected to gather on Tuesday, outside the Bardo Palace “in rejection of the government’s approach in dealing with popular protests in which hundreds of youths arrested.”
On Monday, President Kais Saied indicated he would oppose the cabinet reshuffle, a statement which was seen as a further blow to Mr Mechichi.
According to the president, the reshuffle would be unconstitutional on procedural grounds. He condemned the absence of women among the prospective new ministers and said some potential new Cabinet members may have conflicts of interest.
The North African country has been in a political deadlock since 2019 when two separate elections put President Kais Saied in office but left a deeply fragmented parliament where no party now holds more than a quarter of the seats.
After the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy gave parliament the main voice in forming a government, the constitution worked out but this doesn’t leave out the president as he still has a role to play in system of vetoes and approvals.
After the election early in 2020, it still took several months for a government to be formed, but it lasted only until the summer before falling in a scandal as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
The country’s economy which is already struggling, has been further weekend by the COVID-19 crisis.
Government efforts to enact longstanding change have also been further delayed by the political jostling among parties and prominent figures and these have accompanied each stage of the process.
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