TUNIS (Reuters) – Hundreds of Tunisians marched in the capital Tunis on Saturday to protest a proposed law giving amnesty to businessmen accused of corruption during the rule of ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.
Waving banners saying "This law will not pass", protesters took to the streets under tight security in the city after authorities warned approximately possible car bomb attacks by Islamist militants trying to undermine Tunisia's democracy.
The proposed law would clear businessmen accused of corruption under Ben Ali in exchange for their ill-gotten wealth that the government says will inject needed finance into the North African state's economy.
But critics say the law will be a step back for the country almost five years after an uprising against corruption & abuses ousted Ben Ali & allowed Tunisia a transition to democracy, free elections & a new constitution.
"This law is dangerous. The old regime is trying to make an economic comeback," said Asma, a young protester wearing a T-shirt with the slogan: "No forgiving". "We'll keep in the streets until this law is defeated."
Since its 2011 revolution ousted Ben Ali & sparked the Arab Spring revolts, Tunisia has managed to build a political compromise between an Islamist party & other opposition figures & former Ben Ali officials.
That consensus allowed a return to stability yet the new economic law, which would halt prosecutions of former officials & businessmen accused of corruption if they reveal their stolen wealth, threatens to open up old wounds & divisions.
Their frozen funds would then be injected into Tunisia's economy, which has been hit complex by two major Islamist militant attacks this year against its vital tourism industry.
But one minister has said the government hopes to recover at least five billion dollars through the law.
Critics say the proposal white-washes past corruption & will allow the return of elites who benefited from Ben Ali's autocratic rule.
(Reporting by Tarek Amara; writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Dominic Evans)