Tunisia: 778 arrested for protesting against austerity measures
Tunisia: 778 arrested for protesting against austerity measures
Family members of Tunisian who died in the revolution seven years ago stage a protest in Tunis Tunisia on Saturday
14 January, 2018, 13:15
The North African country has been shaken by the wave of protests against poverty and unemployment during which about 800 hundred people were arrested before the unrest tapered off.
"We are working on a social protection package, a minimum wage, universal healthcare and a housing plan", a government source said, on condition of anonymity.
At the opening of his consultations, Essebsi accused the foreign press of "amplifying" the social unrest and damaging the country's image in its coverage of protests.
The social affairs minister, Mohamed Trabelsi, announced on Saturday monthly aid to needy families would rise from 150 dinars (£45) to between 180 and 210 dinars. Sixteen "Islamist extremists" were among those detained, he said.
The move comes after opposition groups urged Tunisians to "reclaim their revolution", calling for major demonstrations on Sunday Jan. 14, the seventh anniversary of the revolt that topped autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and inspired a wave of Arab Spring uprisings across the region.
The protests draw on anger over price and tax increases included in this year's budget that took effect on January 1. At least one person was killed in the western city of Tebourba on Monday and scores more injured as violence flared in some areas.
Nearly 800 people have been arrested for vandalism and violence such as throwing petrol bombs at police stations, the interior ministry said on Friday.
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With tensions high, security forces were deployed around the capital's Habib Bourguiba Avenue, epicentre of the 2011 protests, and barricades set up to block off entrances.
"People here say that they want to continue to take to the streets in order to put more pressure on the government to scrap the austerity measures", he said.
An AFP correspondent 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.
He said the Tunisian media's coverage had been "fair" and "balanced".
The violence has prompted fears of instability in, a country that is widely regarded as the only democratic success story from the uprisings.
Protests are common in Tunisia in January, when people mark the anniversary of the revolution that ousted long-time dictator Ben Ali.
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