Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Protests Hit Several Cities of Tunisia Over Enforced Austerity

Protests Hit Several Cities of Tunisia Over Enforced Austerity

According to the state news agency TAP, one protester was killed on Monday after clashes broke out in Tebourba, a town 40 km (25 miles) west of Tunis.

Tunisian authorities arrested another 150 people including local opposition leaders on Friday, bringing the total detained close to 800 in response to demonstrations this week against price and tax rises.

Almost a week of sometimes violent protests across the country followed the announcement of austerity measures in this year's budget, which took effect on January 1.

European governments warned their citizens about potential rioting Friday and this weekend, when Tunisia marks seven years since the ouster of longtime strongman President Zine Ben Abidine Ben Ali. Unemployment among young Tunisians also remains high.

Tunisia's army has deployed 2,100 troops in different parts of the country, with the stated aim of protecting "sovereign institutions and vital facilities", defence ministry spokesman Belhassen al-Waslati said on Thursday.

Since the government announced that it would increase the price of gas, oil, cars, phone and internet services, as well as hotel accommodation and other items in the 2018 budget, many protests erupted across the country last week.

The government, however, has vowed to stick to its budget.

Tunisia has been hailed as the only democratic success of the Arab Spring: the one Arab country to topple a long-serving leader in that year's uprisings without triggering widespread violence or civil war. However, deep economic woes, several terror attacks and a struggle with extremism have slowed recovery.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.

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