Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

237 arrested for looting, vandalism in Tunisia

237 arrested for looting, vandalism in Tunisia

More than 300 people were arrested and almost 50 police officers wounded overnight on Wednesday in continued unrest in Tunisia over price hikes and austerity measures, the interior ministry said.

Anti-government protests have flared in a number of Tunisian cities and towns - including the tourist resort of Sousse, since Monday against price and tax rises imposed to cut a ballooning deficit and satisfy global lenders.

Peaceful demonstrations erupted last week, but turned violent on Monday and Tuesday as they spread to more than 20 towns including in the suburbs of the capital, Tunis.

The immediate trigger for the unrest was a 2018 budget that cuts spending and raises taxes in a bid to bring the deficit to below 5 per cent. Demonstrations have swelled into one of the most serious challenges to Prime Minister Youssef Chahed's government since it was formed in late 2016.

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Instead, they are the result of years of structural economic problems, poor governance, corruption and domestic political disagreements.


The army has been deployed in several cities, including Sousse, Kebeli and Bizerte, to protect government buildings that have become a target for protesters.

On Monday, about 300 people took to the streets in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, cradle of the country's Arab Spring revolution, carrying banners with slogans denouncing high prices. The police say he was not killed by their employees.

The deceased suffered from chronic breathing problems and died due to suffocation from inhaling tear gas, the news agency said, denying reports that he was run over by a vehicle belonging to security forces. "People have to understand that Tunisia faces many challenges, but 2018 will be the last hard year for the Tunisians", he said.

There were no protests in Djerba but locals said the assailants had exploited the fact that there was a reduced security presence as police was busy elsewhere combating anti-government protests around the country.

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Chahed has said 2018 will be Tunisia's "last hard year" as he seeks to reduce the country's deficit from 6% to 4.9%. But nine successive governments have failed to get a grip on the economic situation.

"These people have no connection with the protest movements or the cause advocated by protesters namely the rise in prices of certain consumer products in the new finance law for 2018", commented Chibani.

The disorder comes amid anger at rising food price and economic restraints imposed by the government in exchange for a £2billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

It's just a few days before the 7th anniversary of the popular uprisings from December 2010 to January 2011, which resulted in the downfall of former President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14, 2011.

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