Hundreds arrested in Tunisia amid protests over austerity

Calvin Saunders
January 13, 2018

Tebourba, where one protester died earlier this week, saw new clashes Wednesday as dozens of people protested to demand the release of people arrested earlier in the week.

The protest happened in Tebourba, some 40 km (25 miles) from Tunis.

"The protests have declined and there was no damage, but last night the police arrested 150 people involved in rioting in the past few days, bringing the total number of detainees to 778", Interior Ministry spokesman Khelifa Chibani said.

Protests against rising prices and tax increased spread to around 10 towns across the North African country, residents told Reuters.

Police have insisted they did not kill the man and said he suffered from "respiratory problems".

"We are in a democracy, and those who want to protest can do it during the day, not at night,"said Chahed, who heads a coalition of Islamist and secular parties".

The origin point of the Arab Spring, Tunisia is widely perceived as the only democratic success story from the 2011 wave of uprisings (Eurasia Group/Time).

Tunisia protests: Why are people taking to the streets?

Tunisia has been struggling with finances since the 2011 revolution, when Zine El Abidine Ben Ali - who ruled for more than 20 years - was forced to flee.

About 300 people demonstrated in the streets of the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, the center of the country's Arab Spring revolution.

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed responded to the nationwide protests with a law-and-order speech, declaring Tuesday that "the only recourse against looters of public and private properties and their backers is to enforce the law".

The recent unrest started with peaceful protests against the austerity measures last week, but escalated into clashes with police in the night of Monday to Tuesday. The interior ministry says the detentions follow attacks on police stations and government buildings, as well as vandalism during anti-establishment protests. He didn't give estimates of the number of protesters that were hurt.

Police fired tear gas at demonstrators in the Djebel Lahmer district of Tunis, while there were flare-ups and riots in the city of Gafsa and impoverished inland regions of Kasserine and Jelma.

The government reached an agreement late 2017 with the International Monetary Fund for a four-year loan programme, worth about $2.8bn, in return for economic reforms.

Increases in taxes and the prices of goods, and the depreciation of currency have only made the situation worse.

More news: 7 new E. coli cases; continue avoiding romaine lettuce
More news: Home And Away star Jessica Falkholt's life support switched off
More news: Palestinian minister says United States responsibile for planned Israeli settlement expansion

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

Discuss This Article