TUNIS, July 31, 2012 (AFP) -
TUNIS, July 31, 2012 (AFP) –
Hundreds of Tunisians protested outside the interim parliament on Tuesday against a bill that proposes to compensate partisans of the ruling Islamist party Ennahda who suffered under the
country’s former leaders.
“Neither compensation nor hypocrisy, gang of thieves!” shouted the protesters, most of whom were members of the union of unemployed graduates, according to an AFP reporter.
“Poor people are in need of this money!” and “Shame on those who profit from their political battles!” read some of the banners brandished at the demonstration, which came just days after the resignation of Tunisia’s finance minister.
Houcine Dimassi said last week that he was standing down over differences with the government on its economic, monetary and social policies, and over excessive spending in particular.
The “most serious matter” involved a bill before the National Constituent Assembly offering compensation to Islamist victims of repression under former presidents Habib Bourguiba and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was toppled last year in a mass uprising.
Tunisians who benefited from a post-revolution amnesty would be liable for compensation, of whom Ennahda members represent the largest contingent.
Dimassi said the government’s spending “excesses” were aimed at “gaining the sympathies of certain social groups” ahead of next year’s planned elections, and estimated the bill would cost the state one billion dinars (about $615 million, 500 million euros).
“Nothing has been firmly decided on the issue of compensating the beneficiaries of the general amnesty,” said government spokesman Samir Dilou, quoted on Tuesday in Le Temps newspaper.