ibusinesslines.com March 17, 2018

Tunisia's austerity protests turn fatal

12 January 2018, 08:27 | Erica Roy

Protests Against Unemployment Price Hikes Take Place in Tunisia REUTERS Zoubeir Souissi

Police vehicles stop in front of burning tires set up by protesters during demonstrations against rising prices and tax increases in Tunis Tunisia

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed says anti-austerity demonstrators must realise that 2018 will be their last difficulty year.

More than 300 people have been arrested overnight as the Tunisian government deploys the military to help quell ongoing unrest. Spokesman Khalifa Chibani said the man suffered from "respiratory problems".

This security forces' behavior is a key factor in Tunisia's success in preventing the demonstrations from degenerating into violent protest.

Six years since the 2011 uprising that overthrew Ben Ali, Tunisia has been held as a model for avoiding the violence that has affected other nations after their Arab Spring revolts.

Tunisians have started to express frustration over austerity measures expected to further increase prices in a struggling economy.

"This law includes the introduction of a new social contribution on profits and wages, and an increase in Value-Added Tax which coincides with surcharges on certain products".

Activists have vowed to continue protests until the austerity measures are reversed, with more major rallies planned for Friday and Sunday, coinciding with the seventh anniversary of Ben Ali's fall.

"Young people are disappointed with the revolution, especially because of the high cost of living", she said.

There have been no figures given for the number of protesters injured in the clashes. "The region is totally marginalised".

Unrest hit several areas including the central city of Kasserine, and Siliana, Tebourba and Thala in the north. We also work with sister company MEA Risk LLC, to leverage the presence on the ground of a solid network of contributors and experts.

In Kasserine, youths tried to block roads with burning tyres and hurled stones at police, another AFP correspondent said.

Since the "riots" began some four days ago, Chibani said, three police stations and 88 security vehicles had been torched in different parts of the country.

In Tunis on Tuesday police fired tear gas in two districts and also fired gas at a crowd storming a supermarket of France's Carrefour, a witness said.

"What is happening is crime, not protests". In the Ibn Khaldun district of Tunis, security facilities were attacked with Molotov cocktails, it said. The Tunisian government allows the demonstrations to release steam, while at the same time trying to promote reforms to improve the economy.

That claim was condemned by the Islamist Ennahda party, a member of the ruling coalition, for "providing political cover that justifies acts of violence and vandalism"' in a bid to bring about early elections.

Jews have lived for over 2,000 years in mainly Muslim Tunisia, where Islamists, secular groups and labour unions have since 2011 argued over what direction the country should take.

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