David Bamford BBC World Service News
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed support for a wide-ranging but controversial economic reform programme being implemented by the government in Tunisia.
The country is facing a severe economic crisis and is asking for a $4bn (£3.2bn) loan.
Jihad Azour, the IMF’s Middle East director – after meeting President Kais Saied in Tunis on Wednesday – said he liked the reform plan and that the IMF was ready to discuss a loan.
The plan includes freezing wages, stopping recruitment in the public sector and cutting energy and food subsidies.
But there have been big protests and Tunisia’s powerful trade union movement has called nationwide strikes.
The president has already suspended parliament and sacked his entire cabinet.
He says he needs even more powers to better steer the country – his opponents say that amounts to a coup against democracy.