Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Tunisia: Protests against Rising Prices, Tax Increases Sweep Streets

'You Can't Survive Anymore': Tunisia Protests Rising Prices and Taxes Fresh unrest in Tunisia after death at price rise demos
Melody Ballard | 13 January, 2018, 00:43

Tunisian police firing rubber bullets and tear gas clashed with mobs protesting surging prices in the capital, as increasingly violent demonstrations test a government struggling to put its finances in order and attract investors.

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

The number of those detained in the ongoing protests in Tunisia has risen to 778 after 151 people were arrested on Thursday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani has announced.

Demonstrations broke out on Sunday (January 8) and have since spread to over 20 towns as people rally against new tax and price increases aimed at reducing a ballooning deficit and satisfying the north African country's foreign lenders.

Police have insisted they did not kill the man.

Nervous authorities are ever-mindful of two deadly terror attacks three years ago that brought Tunisia's life-blood tourism industry to its knees.

"The protests are over the cost of living", a demonstrator in Tunis told the BBC.

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

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And more demonstrations are planned in the coming days to mark seven years since the ouster of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, 2011.

A representative of Tunisia's Jewish community said two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the entrance to two Talmudic schools on the Mediterranean island of Djerba, but their interiors were not damaged. Prime Minister Youssef Chahed called for calm, while at the same time affirming the right to demonstrate in the streets.

In an update to its travel advice for the country, the FCO said there had been protests in several towns and cities across Tunisia, with some reports of violence.

Akrem, a 27-year-old protester who declined to give his surname because he fears the police, said unemployment and misery were rife in Tebourba.

The opposition has backed the street protests and called on the government to scrap the austerity measures.

One protester told Arab media his main goal is to force the government to reverse its decision to introduce a value-added tax and raise prices on some basic staples.

The protest movement began spontaneously after a few people tagged the phrase on walls across cities in Tunisia.

Global lenders extended a crucial $2.8bn (£2.1bn) loan to Tunisia previous year, but have demanded cuts to the civil service and a broader austerity programme.

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