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Tunisia's President Kais Saied, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte shake hands during the signing of a "strategic partnership"

REUTERS

EU-Tunisia migration deal falls short of expectations

The EU and Tunisia signed a deal on Sunday to curb irregular Europe-bound migration and boost economic investment in the North African country. The goal: To get Tunis – often the last stop for asylum-seekers traveling to Europe from Africa and elsewhere – to tighten border controls, limit the flow of migrants via the Mediterranean Sea, and clamp down on human smuggling.
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Primary school teachers protesting in Tunis, Tunisia

Hard Numbers: No cash for Tunisia’s teachers, no surprises for Uzbekistan’s president, no respite for Arizona’s heat, no place like home for gold bars

17,000: The Tunisian government has stopped paying some 17,000 schoolteachers in response to their protests for higher wages. The hardball move ratchets up labor tensions with a union representing almost a third of the North African country’s primary school instructors. Amid a spiraling economic crisis, the government says it doesn’t have the money to meet their demands. Over the past year, President Kais Saied has cracked down severely on his critics, imperiling the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring.
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Scotland's First Minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) Leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Sturgeon's resignation, NATO-Nordic divide, India vs. BBC, Tunisia’s tightening grip

Nicola Sturgeon steps down

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Wednesday that she is stepping down. She’s been in the role for over eight years, having taken power after the failed 2014 independence referendum. Speaking from Edinburgh, Sturgeon said she’d been contemplating her future for weeks and knew "in my head and in my heart" it was time to go. A longtime supporter of Scottish independence, Sturgeon was pushing for a new referendum, which was rejected by the UK’s top court late last year. In recent weeks, she and her colleagues had been debating whether the next national election in 2024 should be an effective referendum on independence. Sturgeon will stay in power until a successor is elected — likely contenders include John Swinney, Sturgeon’s deputy first minister, Angus Robertson, the culture and external affairs secretary, and Kate Forbes, the finance secretary.

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Paige Fusco

Can a dictator make democracy work for Tunisia?

The birthplace of the Arab Spring and the only country to emerge from it as a democracy — albeit an imperfect one — is now well on its way to becoming something … different.

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Protesters rally agains the constitutional referendum in Tunis.

Mahjoub Yassine/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

What We're Watching: Tunisian referendum, Lavrov on African tour

Tunisia holds constitutional referendum

Tunisians go to the polls Monday to vote in a referendum over the new constitution pushed by President Kais Saied. The vote is scheduled on the first anniversary of Saied sacking the government and suspending parliament in the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring. At the time, he justified the move as necessary to prevent a bigger crisis, but his opponents called it a coup; since then, Saied has consolidated power by taking it away from any institution or group that challenged him, including judges and trade unions. The president's growing dictator vibes have upset many Tunisians who initially supported him, but he still has fans among younger people tired of corruption and dysfunctional parliamentary politics. Most opposition groups have boycotted the plebiscite, so the "yes" vote is likely to win (albeit with a low turnout). If the new charter is approved, Saied promises to hold legislative elections within six months. But they'll be less decisive under the revised constitution, which vastly expands presidential power at the expense of parliament and the judiciary.

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A protester wears a face mask with a sticker reading "Chase Prayuth" and raising the three-finger salute during a rally against the Thai PM.

Chaiwat Subprasom / SOPA Images/Sipa USA

Hard Numbers: Thais come clean on Pegasus, Salvadoran emergency extended, Tunisian pol questioned, Chinese boycott mortgages

30: Thailand admitted using the Israeli-made Pegasus spyware to track phones in cases related to drugs or “national security.” The government reportedly also deployed Pegasus to spy on 30 activists linked to the ongoing youth-led mass protests against coup-leader-turned PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, which triggered a political earthquake by questioning the role of the monarchy.

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Indian Muslims demand the arrest of BJP member Nupur Sharma for her comments on Prophet Mohammed in Mumbai.

REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

Hard Numbers: India’s BJP irks Muslims, Bolsonaro’s bling, Tunisian judges on strike, TikToking boomers in Japan

2: India's ruling BJP party has suspended two officials for making controversial comments about the Prophet Mohammed that have sparked outrage across the Islamic world. PM Narendra Modi is in a tough spot: only a formal apology will placate Gulf countries that India does a lot of business with, but it might make Modi look weak in the eyes of his Hindu nationalist base.

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Hard Numbers: Kenyan reforms nixed, Macron’s McKinsey woes, Sri Lanka goes dark, Tunisia’s Zoom “coup”

70: Kenya’s top court on Thursday rejected President Uhuru Kenyatta’s sweeping plans to tweak the constitution before his term ends in August. Among the amendments he had proposed were creating the position of prime minister and adding 70 new members of parliament — all to be initially appointed by (surprise!) Kenyatta himself.

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