Protests in Tunisia over law granting amnesty to corrupt officials


Protests in Tunisia over law granting amnesty to corrupt officials
  1. Protests in Tunisia over law granting amnesty to corrupt officials
    middle-east-online.com
    Opposition, activists chant ‘this law will not pass’ as parliament debates contested ‘Economic Reconciliation’ bill granting amnesty to officials accused of graft under former leader Ben Ali…
    Middle Easte

TUNIS - Tunisia's parliament on Wednesday began debating a contested bill granting amnesty to officials accused of corruption during the rule of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, triggering angry protests from the opposition and activists outside.

Opposition lawmakers sang the national anthem and shouted slogans before the session was temporarily suspended. Outside, dozens of demonstrators protested, chanting "This law will not pass" and "Whitewash corruption".

After months of protests, the bill was amended from an original draft which would have also granted amnesty to corrupt businessmen. As it stands, they will be liable to prosecution for crimes committed during Ben Ali's 24-year rule.

Critics of the so-called "Economic Reconciliation" bill say it is a step back from the spirit of Tunisia's 2011 revolution to oust Ben Ali, who fled after weeks of protests against corruption and inequality.

"This law is an advanced stage of counter-revolution," opposition lawmaker Ammar Amroussia said.

But government officials say the law helps to turn the page on the past, improves the climate for investment and gives confidence to the administration and officials.

"The time has come to stop the isolation of those officials who could contribute to the building of the new Tunisia," said Mohamed Souf of the governing Nidaa Tounes party. "We must reconcile, as happened in South Africa and Rwanda." The bill was proposed by President Beji Caid Essebsi, himself a former Ben Ali official, and sent to parliament in 2015. But debate was postponed after criticism that the original bill benefited business elites tied to the…

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