1. Woman dies after falling into Tunisia manhole

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News


    The authorities in the Tunisian city of Sousse are investigating the death of a woman who fell into an open manhole following heavy rains.

    Myriam Dhahbi was walking home from work when the incident happened.

    The 20-year-old died before arriving at hospital, the civil protection brigade which conducted the rescue said.

    The fatal accident comes six months after a 14-year-old girl fell to her death in a manhole in the area of Bhar Lazreg in the north-east coastal city of Marsa.

    The child’s body was recovered two kilometres (one mile) away from the site of the accident.

  2. Tunisian football fans return from protest at sea

    BBC World Service

    Tunisian football fans on fishing boats
    Image caption: The Tunisian football fans boarded fishing boats on 12 November

    Five boatloads of Tunisian football fans who had threatened to leave the country in protest at the treatment of their team have returned home.

    Around 300 supporters from the town of Chebba were angry that the footballing authorities had banned their club, Croissant Sportif Chebbien, over a bureaucratic matter.

    They were so disgusted that they said they would migrate to Europe, and headed off in a flotilla.

    But they came back after a day at sea, saying they had received assurances from the authorities that the dispute involving the club would be settled soon.

    Map of Tunisia
  3. Tunisia urged to stop crackdown on freedom of expression

    Amnesty International has urged the authorities in Tunisia to stop using "largely outdated, overly broad and repressive laws" to crack down on the freedom of expression online.

    At least 40 bloggers, administrators of widely followed Facebook pages, political activists and human rights defenders faced criminal prosecution between 2018 and 2020, according to the rights group.

    They have been charged for "publishing online posts critical of local authorities, the police or other state officials".

    "These prosecutions threaten the human rights progress made so far in Tunisia where the right to freedom of expression is a hard-won value of the revolution," Amnesty's deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa Amna Guellali said in a statement.

  4. Schools close as Tunisia avoids total lockdown

    Rana Jawad

    BBC News, Tunis

    Primary and secondary schools in Tunisia are to close for 12 days as part of new measures against coronavirus.

    A huge surge of infections over the past month has seen cases increase by more than 1,000 per day.

    Close to 1,000 people have died since the virus hit Tunisia in March - and most of those deaths have been in the past two months alone.

    The Tunisian government still appears to be trying to avoid another lockdown in the country but the latest measures are edging closer to the restrictions imposed back in March.

    At present:

    • Inter-city travel is banned
    • Public gatherings limited to a maximum of four people
    • Nationwide weekday curfew from 20:00 to 05:00
    • Nationwide weekend curfew hours are 19:00 to 05:00
    • Restaurants and cafes to close at 16:00
    • Nurseries and kindergartens however remain open

    Earlier this week Tunisia’s health officials said that in parts of the country, hospitals treating Covid-19 patients had reached full capacity.

  5. Tunisian court rules that a man can drop slavery-linked name

    BBC World Service

    An 81-year-old Tunisian man has won a landmark court ruling to remove from his name a word that marked him as a descendant of slaves.

    The word ateeq, meaning "freed from slavery", is used as a middle name even though Tunisia abolished slavery in 1846.

    Hamden Dali's lawyers argued that the word discriminated against black Tunisians, who make up around around 15% of the population, and made it difficult to get jobs.

    "In 'Ateeq Dali', there is a certain humiliation because it is as if the person is not free - there is a discomfort for the family to live with this name," lawyer Hanen Ben Hassena told the Reuters news agency.

    Tunisia black population are descended people brought from sub-Saharan Africa to Tunisia as part of the slave trade, Reuters adds.

  6. Night curfew reinstated in Tunisia's capital

    Rana Jawad

    BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

    People wait to get tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside a mobile testing lab in Tunis, Tunisia
    Image caption: Officials have ramped-up coronavirus testing in the capital, Tunis

    The mayor of Tunisia's capital, Tunis, has said a night-time curfew will be reinstated for two weeks in a series of restrictions intended to control the spread of coronavirus, which has significantly risen in recent weeks.

    The curfew will also be imposed in the neighbouring provinces of Manouba, Ariana, and Ben Arous.

    Since July there were only a few soft measures in place to control the rate of infection in Tunisia. But in the past month alone, more than 20,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19.

    The mayor of Tunis said the curfew will start on Thursday and will run from 21:00 to 05:00 local time on weekdays, and 19:00 to 05:00 local time on weekends.

    Weekly markets and Friday prayers have also been banned, and cafes and restaurants can no longer have seated areas.

    The mayors of four other Tunisian cities, which have also seen a significant rise in Covid-19 cases, have also recently imposed a night curfew.

    There is a real worry that the country’s health sector could significantly struggle if the infection rate does not slow down.

    The Tunisian government has so far ruled out a return to a nationwide lockdown that was imposed earlier this year, when it shut down its economy and borders, and imposed severe restrictions on movement.

  7. Tunisian leader proposes death sentence for murderers

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    Tunisian President Kais Saied has said murderers should be sentenced to death following the rape and killing of a young woman in the North African country.

    "Those who commit murder should be sentenced to death," President Saied told a National Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

    Rahma Lahmar, 29, went missing for a few days and her mutilated body was found north of the capital, Tunis, on Friday last week. She had been raped.

    Police say they have arrested a suspect who has since confessed to the killing.

    Many in the country are calling for the killer to be hanged.

    Tunisia abolished the death penalty in 1991.

  8. Map of Tunisia

    Provides overview, key facts and events, timelines and leader profiles along with current news about Tunisia

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  9. Tunisia parliament votes in new technocrat government

    Tunisia's prime minister-designate Hichem Mechichi during the voting by parliament

    Tunisia's parliament has approved the new government formed by Prime Minister-designate Hichem Mechichi.

    Mr Mechichi appointed technocrats in his government as opposed to members of political parties as has been the case in the past.

    Political parties had initially expressed mixed reactions to the selection of technocrats.

    The parliamentarians voted 134 for and 67 against forming the government, according to Reuters news agency.

    Mr Mechichi in his speech in parliament on Tuesday said the new government would address the economic and social situation at a time of political instability.

    This is Tunisia's third government since the parliamentary election in October last year.

  10. Tunisia's prime minister-designate names new government

    Tunisian Prime Minister-designate Hichem Mechichi speaks to the media to announce the composition of his government in Carthage, Tunisia, 24 August 2020.

    Tunisia’s Prime Minister-designate, Hichem Mechichi, has unveiled a new government made up of technocrats rather than members of political parties.

    This is the second cabinet to be named in six months in Tunisia.

    Mr Mechichi had previously said he wanted a cabinet made up of independent technocrats to "present urgent solutions" to the country.

    Mr Mechichi is an independent who was appointed by President Kais Saied last month.

    Before his appointment he was the interior minister in former Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh's government. Mr Fakhfakh resigned over an alleged financial scandal.

    The powerful Islamist party Ennahdha said it was not consulted in the naming of the new government and wants a political government that reflects the parties in parliament.

    But the party has also said there's need to approve the new government to prevent an early disruptive early elections.

    Parliament is expected to vote on the new cabinet in 10 days.

    Read more:

  11. Italy to give Tunisia $13m to stop migrants

    BBC World Service

    Italian Coast Guard boat with migrants from Tunisia and Lybia arrives in the port of the Italian Pelagie Island of Lampedusa on August 1, 2020
    Image caption: Hundreds of migrants have been arriving to Italy's southern shores

    The Italian government says it will give $13m (£9.8m) to Tunisia, to help the country strengthen its maritime borders and stop hundreds of migrants crossing the Mediterranean in small boats.

    During a visit to Tunis, Italy's foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, said there was no more room in his country for people who arrived illegally.

    The Italian government has already offered to train Tunisian land and sea forces to halt the departure of asylum seekers.

    Italy has been struggling to deal with daily arrivals of hundreds of migrants to its southern shores, a task complicated by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

  12. Tunisia independence campaigner dies at 93

    Gisele Halimi
    Image caption: Gisele Halimi, seen here in 2003, had a huge influence over laws around women's rights

    A prominent campaigner for the independence of Tunisia, Gisele Halimi, has died a day after her 93rd birthday.

    Ms Halimi was born in Tunisia but moved to France and became a lawyer and politician.

    She dedicated her life to the rights of women and the decriminalisation of abortion.

    Victories in her legal career included the acquittal in 1972 of a 16-year-old girl who had an abortion following a rape.

    Halimi later persuaded French lawmakers to reclassify rape as a crime of the same gravity as murder.

  13. Tunisia names new PM following scandal

    BBC World Service

    Hichem Mechichi
    Image caption: Hichem Mechichi replaces Elyes Fakhfakh who resigned earlier this month over allegations of a conflict of interest

    Tunisia's President Qais Saied, has named a 46-year-old lawyer, Hichem Mechichi, as the country's new prime minister-designate.

    Mr Mechichi is an independent, and was the interior minister in the outgoing government.

    He has been given up to one month to form a government.

    The country is facing an economic crisis following the collapse of tourism, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Mr Mechcichi replaces Elyes Fakhfakh who resigned earlier this month over an alleged financial scandal.

    Read more:

  14. Protesters 'block 50% of Tunisia's oil supply'

    Protesters enter an oil pumping station despite military forces in Tatatouine, Tunisia - 16 July 2020
    Image caption: The protesters want jobs and development

    Demonstrators in the south of Tunisia have blocked an oil pipeline as they called for more investment in the marginalised region, AFP news agency reports quoting the energy ministry.

    Hundreds stormed the El-Kamour production facility, south of Tataouine two weeks after setting up a protest camp near the site, AFP says.

    The blocked pipeline carries more than 50% of the country’s extracted oil.

    "There is a real problem of development in Tataouine," Hamed Matri, an advisor at the energy ministry is quoted as saying.

    In 2017, the government promised to put more money into boosting the fortunes of the region, but protesters say that this has not been honoured, AFP reports.

    Officials are now speaking to the demonstrators to try and end the pipeline blockage, it adds.

    Map of Tunisia
  15. Tunisia PM quits amid alleged financial scandal

    Rana Jawad

    BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

    Tunisia"s prime minister designate Elyes Fakhfakh
    Image caption: Mr Fakhfakh lasted less than six months as prime minister

    The Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes el-Fakhfakh has resigned.

    The president's office confirmed that the head of government submitted his resignation on Wednesday morning.

    This comes following intense pressure on Mr Fakhfakh from members of parliament the past week over a brewing alleged financial scandal.

    He lasted less than six months as prime minister, making this the shortest time in office for a Tunisian government.

    Mr Fakhfakh’s resignation also came after rifts in parliament, led by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, and threats by lawmakers to withdraw confidence in his government over alleged conflict of interest.

    He is accused of maintaining shares in private companies that won state contracts amounting to $15m (£12m).

    The outgoing prime minister has denied accusations of corruption and has previously said he would step down if an ongoing investigation showed any wrongdoing.

    A statement from the prime minister’s office described the resignation as serving the national interests of the country and one that offers the president a new way out of the crisis.

    The president is expected to appoint Mr Fakhfakh’s successor within a week’s time - who will have a maximum of two months to form a government that needs to be backed by a majority of lawmakers.

  16. Tunisian jailed for sharing satirical Facebook post

    BBC World Service

    Emna Charqui
    Image caption: Emna Charqui shared a post about hand-washing written by someone else that imitated Koranic verse

    A blogger in Tunisia has been sentenced to six months in prison for inciting hatred between religions after reposting a text on coronavirus written in the style of the Koran.

    Emna Charqui was arrested after she shared in May a post on Facebook calling for people to wash their hands and observe social distancing, written in the form of a sura or verse from the Koran.

    Ms Charqui is an openly avowed atheist in a country where for many this remains taboo.

    But in a recent interview, she said that this time she had no intention of provoking shock - she simply found the post funny.