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Tunisians protest over corruption amnesty bill

© AFP/File | "There will be no reconciliation (with the corrupt) without the truth being revealed and without the prosecution and the judgment of the corrupt," said Popular Front leader Hamma Hammami, pictured in June 2016

TUNIS (AFP) - 

More than 2,000 Tunisians protested Saturday in the capital against a bill that would allow officials being prosecuted for alleged corruption to be amnestied in exchange for reimbursing embezzled funds.

"Corruption will not pass!" shouted demonstrators including prominent politicians in central Tunis, after a call to protest from more that 50 non-government organisations and a group dubbed "Manich Msamah" ("I don't forgive" in Arabic).

The protests come more than six years after a popular uprising toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over grievances including state corruption.

The protesters reject a bill that would allow an amnesty for those being prosecuted for graft -- including businessmen and Ben Ali-era officials -- in exchange for them paying fines and reimbursing any illicit gains.

"There will be no reconciliation (with the corrupt) without the truth being revealed and without the prosecution and the judgment of the corrupt," said Hamma Hammami, leader of the Popular Front party.

Issam Chebbi, a lawmaker and top official in the Al-Joumhouri party, said: While "the president insists on passing the draft law, we are determined to resist in a peaceful manner".

President Beji Caid Essebsi defended the bill on Wednesday, criticising calls for protests, saying that the legislation aimed to "improve the investment climate" in the country.

On Friday, non-government organisations warned against a text that they said threatened "transitional justice".

Tunisia has embarked on a period of transitional justice since the 2011 uprising, and last year held the first public hearings of a commission on human rights violations during six decades of dictatorship.

© 2017 AFP