Africa

Tunisian president calls on banks to reduce interest rates

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Tunisian President Kais Saied takes the oath of office in Tunis, Tunisia, October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/File Photo

TUNIS, July 31 (Reuters) - Tunisian President Kais Saied called on banks on Saturday to reduce interest rates, saying the measure was needed to help improve social and economic conditions in the country.

Saied invoked emergency powers on Sunday to seize control of government, remove the prime minister and freeze parliament. His foes have called it a coup, an accusation he has denied. read more .

On Saturday, he said corrupt people had left the country on the verge of bankruptcy, adding in a meeting with the Banks Association, "I urge you to stand with the Tunisian people by lowering interest rates as much as possible".

"We are able to face all challenges, with our capabilities, with help of our friends, but let us rely above all on ourselves, and we can achieve results that many people do not imagine," Saied added.

Tunisia, which has seen its debt burden rise and economy shrink by 8.8% last year in real terms, has started talks with the International Monetary Fund to seek a financial assistance package.

Reporting By Tarek Amara and Omar Fahmy Editing by William Maclean and Frances Kerry

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