Thousands March Against Tunisia’s Amnesty Bill

Thousands March Against Tunisia’s Amnesty BillThousands March Against Tunisia’s Amnesty Bill

More than 2,000 Tunisians marched in the country’s capital protesting a proposed amnesty bill that would see businessmen accused of corruption under ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali walk free.

At the demonstration against the Economic Reconciliation Bill on Saturday, the protesters claimed the bill would contradict the spirit of Tunisia’s 2011 revolution that ousted Ben Ali, Reuters reported.

But government officials said a pardon would be a way for the businessmen to inject their fraudulent money back into the country’s economy.

The protesters, accompanied by opposition party leaders and activists, marched through Tunis’ central avenue.

The controversial bill would allow the accused businessmen to reveal stolen money and repay the amount without fear of prosecution.

There are no exact figures but initial estimates say approximately $3 billion could find their way into the legally taxed economy.

The draft bill was proposed by Tunisia President Beji Caid Essebsi, a former Ben Ali official. But it has been stuck in Parliament for the last two years.

For many critics, the law is simply an amnesty for criminals and a way to rehabilitate Ben Ali’s allies back into Tunisian society.

“We’re here to say to Essebsi and his cohorts that the law will fall in the street like in all democracies,” Popular Front opposition leader, Ammar Amroussia, said.

These protests come at a sensitive time for Prime Minister Youssef Chahed who is struggling to pass austerity measures and public spending reforms to help economic growth.

Since the 2011 revolution, Tunisia’s democracy has advanced with free elections and a new constitution. Yet the government has faced growing social discontent over the economy, especially in inland regions.

Unemployment in Tunisia stands at around 15%, according to official figures.

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