Anti-Austerity Protests Simmer in Tunisia

Anti-Austerity Protests Simmer in Tunisia

Chibani said that a total of 778 people have been arrested in clashes over the past few nights between young demonstrators and police. Major Khelifa Chibani told state news agency TAP on Thursday.

"Thirty-one and half per cent of those arrested are between the ages of 15 and 20, 54.9 per cent between the ages 20 and 30 and 11.7 per cent are between 31 and 40". Several police stations have been set on fire.

The source did not give more details but it was the first time an official talked about increasing aid since protests, some of them violent, broke out on Monday against austerity measures imposed by the government to cut a budget deficit.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khalifa al-Shaibani confirmed in a statement to that the total number of detainees since the beginning of recent events in a number of areas reached 773 people.

"We call on the authorities to ensure that people are not arrested in an arbitrary manner and that all those detained are treated with full respect for their due process rights and are either charged or promptly released", he said.


Protesters are primarily taking issue with a new finance act in the country, which had led to increases in the value-added tax and consumer prices.

Dr Lise Storm, senior lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, told CNN that many people were suffering real hardship but that the government had to act.

The International Monetary Fund agreed in 2016 to a four-year loan program worth about $2.8 billion, but payments are tied to the Tunisian government carrying out economic and social reforms.

Activists and the opposition have called for fresh protests on Sunday, the seventh anniversary of the toppling of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, the first leader to fall in the 2011 "Arab Spring" protests that swept the region.

An anti-austerity youth movement - named Fech Nestannow, which translates as "What are we waiting for?" - has sprung up since the start of the year and is seeking to rally opposition to the measures.

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