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Tunisians rally against president on anniversary of his power seizure



Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Tunis on Tuesday to mark the second anniversary of President Kais Saied’s seizure of power, calling for an end to “autocratic rule” and the immediate release of detained opposition leaders.

About 300 people gathered on the central Habib Bourguiba Avenue at a rally organised by the main opposition coalition Salvation Front, carrying placards saying “Freedom for political detainees” and “Down with the coup”.

Elsewhere in the capital, hundreds of supporters of another opposition grouping, the Free Constitution Party, led by party leader Abir Moussi, gathered waving Tunisian flags and chanting: “poverty increased, hunger increased..” and “Saied Enough”.

Saied seized most powers in 2021, shutting down parliament before passing a new constitution that gives him near total authority.

In April, the authorities arrested opposition leader and Saied’s most prominent critic Rached Ghannouchi, 82, former prime minister Ali Laryedh and other officials from Ghannouchi’s party.

Earlier in February, police detained about 20 prominent political leaders, including Salvation Front members, on charges of plotting against state security.

The opposition says Saied, elected in 2019, expanded his powers in a coup, but he has defended his actions saying they were legal and necessary to save Tunisia from the chaos and rampant corruption.

“Saied changed all law, all political system for the worse … If there is an imminent danger, it is Kais Saied”, Abir Moussi told supporters.

Tunisia is in the midst of a severe economic crisis and needs external financial assistance to avoid defaulting on its debts, while Tunisians suffer from high costs of living and shortages of staples, such as sugar, semolina, oil, coffee, and rice.


Putin Registers As Candidate For Russia’s Next Presidential Election



Russia on Monday officially recognised Vladimir Putin as a candidate for the presidential elections in March, a vote that he is all but certain to win.

The 71-year-old has led Russia since the turn of the century, winning four presidential ballots and briefly serving as prime minister in a system where opposition has become virtually non-existent.

The Central Election Commission said it had registered Putin, who nominated himself, as well as right-wing firebrand and Putin-loyalist Leonid Slutsky as candidates for the vote.

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17, a move that Kremlin critics have argued makes guaranteeing transparency more difficult.

Following a controversial constitutional reform in 2020, Putin could stay in power until at least 2036.

Rights groups say that previous elections have been marred by irregularities and that independent observers are likely to be barred from monitoring the vote.

While Putin is not expected to face any real competition, liberal challenger Boris Nadezhdin has passed the threshold of signatures to be registered as a candidate.

However, it is still unclear if he will be allowed to run, and the Kremlin has said it does not consider him to be a serious rival.

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Hong Kong court grants Chinese real estate giant reorganisation postponement



Hong Kong’s Supreme Court has once again granted the highly indebted Chinese real estate giant Evergrande a postponement for its reorganisation plan.

Judge Linda Chan surprisingly postponed the decision until Jan. 29, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

The property developer, which has liabilities estimated at more than 300 billion dollars, is threatened with liquidation.

However, creditors from abroad had taken the company to court because of its missing several payments.

Chan had already said at the previous hearing that this would be the last postponement and that she would very likely agree to liquidation if China Evergrande did not find a plan for restructuring with its creditors.

According to reports, however, the lawyers of the Hong Kong-listed group had now held out the prospect of being able to reach an agreement with the lenders in the coming weeks.

In the case of liquidation, an insolvency administrator would monetise the company and pay out the creditors.

Meanwhile, some experts were of the opinion that liquidation would return less money to creditors than a reorganisation, China Evergrande argued the same in court, according to reports.

The group had been trying to submit a restructuring plan since 2022, without success. Its founder and once China’s richest man, Hui Ka Yan, is being investigated by the Chinese authorities.

Like many other property groups, the company had been in a serious crisis for some time because it is earning significantly less on the slumping property market.

The company is finding it more difficult to obtain state support and is no longer able to service its loans.

“The Evergrande case also shows that the era of large private property developers in China is coming to an end,’’ says Max Zenglein from the Merics China Institute in Berlin.

If Chan decides to wind up China Evergrande, this could also have an impact on other companies.

“One challenge for the government will be to prevent domino effects in the economy caused by major bankruptcies,’’ says Zenglein.

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