Tunisia braced for further protests yesterday after hundreds were arrested in four nights of street clashes between riot police and disaffected youths in cities across the North African country.
President Kais Saied urged young Tunisians to refrain from further violence even as social media posts called for new rallies.
“Do not attack or insult anyone and do not damage private property or state institutions”, he said Monday, warning that “chaos” does not allow progress.
Rioting broke out Friday evening, and more than 600 people had been arrested by Monday over the disturbances in which young people have hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at police who have fired teargas at them.
Much of the unrest has hit working class neighbourhoods, where anger is boiling over soaring unemployment and a political class accused of having failed to deliver good governance a decade on from the 2011 revolution. The tourism-reliant economy shrank by 9% last year, consumer prices have spiralled and one third of young people are unemployed.
Tunisia often sees protests in January, a month of several key anniversaries including longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s fall from power on January 14, 2011.
Large gatherings are banned due to the coronavirus pandemic and police have been deployed, with an overnight curfew extended from 8:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Tunisia’s divided political leadership has stayed largely silent on the protests by youths dismissed by many commentators as “delinquents”.Messages posted online yesterday called for protests to keep going, and activists warned that demonstrations were likely to continue until major action was taken to address the root cause of anger.
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