Tunisian army deploys forces to protect public facilities

Tunisian cities have been hit by violent protests as the North African countries edges towards bankruptcy.

The protests took place as Tunisia marks the 10th anniversary of the revolution that toppled the late President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.

Tunisian security forces arrested dozens of young people during consecutive nights of disturbances in several cities, a government spokesman said Sunday.

Where did the clashes take place?

Violent protests took place in several areas of the capital, Tunis, and the seaside city of Sousse, among others. 

Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Hayouni told the AFP news agency that dozens of young people, mostly aged between 14 and 17, were held after they took to the streets. He accused them of intending to loot and vandalize shopfronts and cars overnight. 

AgenceTAP put the number arrested at 242, citing a spokesman for the National Security Directorate.

Gangs of youths on the streets of TunisYouths clashed with police in several cities during protests over living conditions and high unemployment

Witnesses in Sousse said security forces fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of angry protesters who blocked roads and burned tires.

There were also night protests and riots in the north of the country.

Tunisia is set to exit a four-day lockdown amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. The country has been under a nighttime curfew since October.

What’s driving the protests?

A decade after the Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia has made a smooth transition towards democracy, but its economy remains on the verge of bankruptcy.

The key tourism sector, already on its knees after a string of deadly jihadi attacks in 2015, has been dealt a devastating blow by the coronavirus pandemic.

Tunisia’s GDP shrank by 9% last year, consumer prices have spiraled and one-third of young people are unemployed.

The Arab Spring: What Went Wrong?

Tunisia has been rocked by months of anti-government protests.

Months of sit-ins have paralyzed oil and phosphate production for months, putting holes of billions of dollars in the country’s budget.

According to the Tunisian Forum of Economic and Social Rights, more than 1,000 demonstrations took place in November alone.

The protests pose a challenge for the government of Hicham Mechichi, who on Saturday reshuffled the cabinet, installing new interior, justice and energy ministers.


Arab Observer

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