Tight security in Tunis amid protest against Clinton visit

TUNIS — Dozens of Tunisians marched in Tunis under tight security Wednesday to protest a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the first by a senior US official since the downfall of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Dozens of riot police were deployed along with two army helicopters and an armoured personnel carrier equipped with water hoses as demonstrators chanted: “No to normalisation, Tunisia is free and not for sale” or “Tunisia is an Arab country, neither imperialist nor Zionist.”

It was the second demonstration in two days in the capital against the visit of Clinton, who was due to arrive from Egypt later Wednesday.

Wednesday’s protest drew around 100 people, according to an AFP correspondent, with banners and placards reading: “No to US tutelage,” and “No to hegemony, yes to equality.”

“We are against the visit of Hillary Clinton or of any US representative. We have never forgotten US crimes in Iraq,” said a 22-year-old student who identified herself as Sofiane.

The United States had close relations with Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14 after a 23-year rule in the face of an unprecedented popular uprising.

Earlier Wednesday,Clinton took what she called a “thrilling” tour of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, centre of the protests that ousted president Hosni Mubarak, ignoring criticism of Washington’s long support for his regime.

The most senior US official to visit Egypt since Mubarak’s resignation last month, Clinton wandered round the huge central plaza accompanied by embassy officials, before heading into talks with the civilian and military leadership.


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