First Published: 2018-01-12

Tunisians continue anti-austerity protests
Number of people detained in wave of protests has risen to nearly 800 as Tunisians take to streets demanding government reverse austerity measures.
Middle East Online

Protestors face riot police during a demonstration in Tunis.

TUNIS - Fresh scuffles broke out Friday as hundreds of Tunisians took to the streets of the capital and coastal city of Sfax, waving yellow cards and demanding the government reverse austerity measures.

More than 200 young people rallied in Tunis following a call from the Fech Nestannew (What Are We Waiting For?) campaign for a major protest against the measures imposed at the start of the year.

They held up yellow cards, chanted slogans and scuffled with riot police as they marched on administrative offices in the capital.

"The people want the Finance Act repealed" and "The people are fed up with the new Trabelsi", they shouted, referring to the graft-tainted in-laws of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

"We believe that dialogue and reforms are still possible," said Henda Chennaoui of the Fech Nestannew campaign.

"We've got the same demands we've been seeking for years -- to tackle real problems like the economic crisis and the high cost of living," she said.

In Sfax, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of Tunis, around 200 people vented their anger over rising prices.

"The people's money is in the palaces, and the children of the people are in the prisons," read one placard.

Tunisian authorities said Friday the number of people detained in the wave of violent protests had risen to nearly 800, after a provincial town was hit by a night of unrest over the austerity measures.

Correspondents in the northern town of Siliana said police fired tear gas at dozens of youths who pelted them with stones during skirmishes that lasted around three hours overnight.

- 'Heavy-handed' -

Interior ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani said 151 people were arrested Thursday, taking the number detained for alleged involvement in the violence to 778 after several nights of unrest.

Chibani said clashes between youths and police were "limited" and "not serious", and insisted no acts of violence, theft or looting were recorded Thursday evening.

Rights group Amnesty International accused the authorities of using "increasingly heavy-handed methods to disperse rallies and subsequently arrest protesters" during the unrest.

"Tunisian security forces must refrain from using excessive force and end their use of intimidation tactics against peaceful demonstrators," the watchdog said.

One man died in the unrest on Monday night, but the authorities have insisted the police were not responsible for this.

A number of left-wing activists have been arrested by the authorities in recent days, after officials accused them of fuelling the violence.

Several dozen members of the Popular Front party demonstrated Friday in front of a court in the town of Gafsa after the arrest of several local activists.

Tunisia is considered a rare success story of the Arab Spring uprisings that began in the North African country in 2011 and spread across the region, toppling autocrats.

But the authorities have failed to resolve the issues of poverty and unemployment.

Protests are common in Tunisia in January, when people mark the anniversary of the revolution that ousted long-time dictator Ben Ali.

 

UN Security Council lenient to Turkey’s Syria offensive

Washington probes Hezbollah ‘narcoterrorism’

Tillerson to present US strategy on Syria to European, Arab allies

Russia pension funds may invest in Aramco IPO

Iranian woman skydiver looks to break down stereotypes

Qaeda leader calls on Muslims to attack Jews, Americans over Jerusalem

Palestinians in occupied West Bank get 3G

Turkish army clashes with Kurdish militia amid US alarm

Turkey arrests dozens accused of ‘terror propaganda’

Three French female jihadists face possible death penalty in Iraq

Women journalists protest separation during Pence visit to Jerusalem

Egypt military accuses presidential hopeful of committing crimes

Israeli minister calls to ban author praising Palestinian teen

Qatar supports Turkey’s offensive against Kurds

World powers meet on Syria chemical attacks

Morocco's king appoints five new ministers

Pence pledges US embassy move by end of 2019 on Jerusalem trip

Russia calls for diplomatic solution to Yemen conflict

Russia invites Kurds to join Syria peace process

Turkey shells Kurdish targets in northern Syria

Closer look at pro-Ankara rebels amassing around Afrin

Pence set for Palestinian snub

Abbas to ask EU to recognise Palestinian state

Saudi-led coalition to give $1.5 bln in Yemen aid

Mattis: Turkey gave US advance warning on Syria operation

Yemen releases budget for first time in three years

Saudi calls for cooperation between OPEC, non-OPEC countries

France presses Turkey to end offensive against Kurds

The changing faces of al-Qaeda in Syria

Kurdish militia fire rockets at Turkish town

Moroccans wary depreciation of dirham could raise cost of living, despite benefits

Deserted streets, terrified civilians after Turkey attacks Afrin

Iraqi, Kurdish leaders hold talks on bitter regional dispute

Russia-led Syria peace congress to be held January 30

Turkey launches new strikes on Kurdish targets in Syria

Egypt's Sisi says will stand for re-election

Pence heads to Mideast despite Muslim, Christian anger

Assad regime says Syria a 'tourist' destination

Journalists arrested while reporting Sudan protests

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict