Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Darrell Mcdonald

Tunisia deploys army, makes 300 arrests as violent unrest continues

Tunisia deploys army, makes 300 arrests as violent unrest continues

National Security chief Walid Ben Hkima said 11 officers were wounded in the clashes, some after being hit by stones and Molotov cocktails.

Tunisia's investment minister said, the government, which is under pressure to cut a ballooning deficit and satisfy global lenders, will not revise austerity measures in the 2018 budget despite the spate of protests.

"Further demonstrations are planned for the coming days, including in Tunis on 12 and 13 January 2018; you should avoid protests and follow the instructions of the local authorities", it added.

The protests continues to sizzle underneath the surface of Tunisia, even after the changes in the Tunisian government following the Arab Spring that led to the ousting of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The immediate cause of the unrest is government-imposed price and tax rises, which will raise the cost of basic goods but are said to be essential to cut a ballooning deficit and satisfy global lenders.

"We're concerned about the high number of arrests, some 778 people we understand have now been arrested since Monday, and around a third of those arrested were between the ages of 15 and 20 so very young", United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.

In a Tunis suburb, citizens intervened to help police hold off rioters armed with knives and firebombs trying to attack a train. Protesters have burned dozens of state buildings, prompting the government to send the army into several cities and towns.

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The opposition parties also called for the continuation of the demonstrations until the cancellation of the "unjust budget of 2018", including the raising of prices and taxes.

Tunisia's economy has been in crisis since a 2011 uprising unseated the government and two major militant attacks in 2015 damaged tourism, which comprises 8 percent of gross domestic product.

Increases in taxes and the prices of goods, and the depreciation of currency have only made the situation worse.

The revolution was sparked by the country's high unemployment rates and worries about corruption.

Tunisia's economy has struggled since the revolution, with growth remaining slow.

Mr Chahed is imposing austerity on Tunisia as part of a loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

Spokesman Ziyad Akhdar, of the Popular Front political umbrella group that has been spearheading some of the protests, called the prime minister's remarks "irresponsible", and called for an "independent inquiry" into who is provoking the violence.

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