Tunis (dpa) – To bring the catastrophic corona situation in Tunisia under control, a vaccination campaign for up to one million citizens in the country began on Sunday. In the capital Tunis alone, thousands lined up for vaccination centers in the morning.
All citizens over 40 years of age were urged to be vaccinated. A successful vaccination campaign is of great importance to President Kais Saied and his recently initiated restructuring of the political system.
Little fully vaccinated
Vaccinations have been quite slow so far: only 8 percent of the total 11.5 million inhabitants of the North African state have so far been fully vaccinated against the corona virus. The alpha and delta variants rage at the same time. 2000 to 3000 new infections are reported every day. A month ago, nearly 10,000 new cases were registered in one day. Tunisia also has one of the highest death rates in the world. Nearly 21,000 Covid patients have died since the start of the pandemic. Videos circulated on social media of patients choking in the corridors of Tunisian hospitals.
The catastrophic corona situation also exacerbated people’s discontent with the political leadership. Rather than dealing with the pandemic, President Saied, recently deposed head of government Hichem Mechichi, as well as Speaker of Parliament and Ennahda Chief Rached Ghannouchi, have been regularly involved in disputes in recent months. Reforms and an effective corona strategy failed during the struggle for the division of power between the president, government and parliament. The tour didn’t have much more to offer than a curfew. The economically hard-hit country could not have afforded another lockdown.
Protesters call for parliament to dissolve
Time and again, protesters called for the resignation of the government and the dissolution of parliament due to the hopeless corona situation. Hundreds of people protested in the country two weeks ago. Hours later, Saied deposed the head of government and froze the work of parliament for an initial 30 days. The president emphasizes that the constitution falls within the legally permissible framework. Critics, on the other hand, speak of a coup d’état. Several critics of Saied have also been arrested. According to observers, the arrests so far have always been linked to older procedures.
According to surveys, a majority of people in the country support Saied’s steps. Many Tunisians accuse the MPs – especially those of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party – of a thirst for power. You see the current measures as anti-corruption.
Support in fighting a pandemic?
Tunisia is the only country in the region to convert to democracy since the 2011 uprisings. How things will continue in the North African country is uncertain. It is very likely that Saied will gain more power in the long run as well. Fighting the pandemic is an important condition if it is to maintain popular support.
Hundreds of facilities such as schools were converted into vaccination centers for the vaccination campaign on Sunday. Those who wanted to be vaccinated could travel for free by bus and train. According to an advisor from Saied, the preparation of the manufacturer Astrazeneca must be injected.
Some Tunisians were skeptical after chaotic scenes unfolded during a vaccination campaign two and a half weeks ago. At that time, despite the shortage of vaccines, all adults were invited to the vaccination centers. The police had to intervene several times. In the meantime, however, the country has received millions of vaccine doses donated from abroad.