For more on the protests in Tunisia and the intensifying calls for President Kais Saied to resign, VOA’s James Butty spoke with Safa Ben Saad, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: Why are Tunisians calling for the resignation of President Kais Saied?
Saad: Tunisians are experiencing an economic crisis that is witnessing a shortage of basic goods and an increase of prices for food.
Shelves are empty. There is no sugar, no vegetable oil and many other goods are disappearing from grocery stores. The food crisis in Tunisia has been ongoing for months now but President Kais Saied continues to deny its existence, instead blaming speculators and the opposition for the lack of essential goods.
Last week, Tunisians began to experience a shortage of petrol and it was the first time that the government spoke on the global crisis, but authorities still hid that the north African nation is experiencing an economic and financial crisis.
VOA: Tunisians who took to the streets over the weekend said they were protesting a range of things, among them the food and economic crisis while others called for President Kais Saied to step down. Do you think the protests are politically driven?
Saad: There are two mobilizations for the protests. There were demonstrations by political parties and others were in the popular suburbs of Tunis.
The political parties are protesting the economic crisis, however we cannot blame everything on the economic crisis. The main challenge for the political parties is the parliamentary elections scheduled for December 17th.
VOA: Tunisia recently passed a new constitution however the north African nation is still experiencing crisis. Do you think this reflects that citizens are dissatisfied with the new constitution?
Saad: President Kais Saied got a majority vote to pass the new constitution, however majority of the citizens stayed home and did not vote for the new constitution.
The economic crisis is destabilizing people and I think they may avoid partaking in the upcoming legislative elections. Even after the elections, I am not sure that Tunisia’s political situation will stabilize.