Published: Wed, January 20, 2021

Tunisia rocked by fourth night of street riots

Tunisia rocked by fourth night of street riots

Tensions remain high in Tunisia after a fourth night of conflict, despite the anti-coronavirus curfew and President Cas Syed's intervention, social unrest coupled with some unofficial calls to protest against poverty on Tuesday.

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.

Tunisia on Thursday commemorated the 10th anniversary since the flight into exile of the iron-fisted Ben Ali, who was pushed from power in a popular revolt that foreshadowed the regional pro-democracy uprisings, strife and civil war in North Africa and the Mideast that came to be known as the Arab Spring.

He confirmed the legitimacy of any social movement or peaceful protest, guaranteed by the country's constitution.

It was not immediately clear if there were injuries among the youths and Hayouni did not say what charges those arrested faced.

However, in cities across the country youths have thrown stones and petrol bombs, burnt tyres and looted shops while police have deployed tear gas and batons, arresting hundreds.

Where did the clashes take place?

Security forces clash with demonstrators during anti-government protests in Tunis, Tunisia, January 18, 2021.

Tunisia's GDP shrank by 9% past year, consumer prices have spiraled and one-third of young people are unemployed. Meanwhile, one-third of young people are unemployed.

In Tunis' central Bourguiba Avenue, a tree-lined boulevard flanked by government offices and colonial-era buildings where the biggest protests in 2011 took place, demonstrators on Monday said they wanted people arrested in recent days to be released.

The key tourism sector, already on its knees after a string of deadly militant attacks in 2015, has been dealt a devastating blow by the pandemic. The political class is viewed by many Tunisians as inefficient and corrupt and the police are despised in poorer, neglected areas, and often accused of violent tactics, said analysts.

Police blocked the marchers as they reached the interior ministry, AFP reported. It said troops said will conduct joint patrols with security forces in the regions of Siliana, Kasserine, Sousse and Bizerte, where clashes with police broke out.

Videos circulating on social media showed dramatic chases down alleys between groups of young people and the police who used tear gas to disperse them.

Tunisia has recorded over 177,000 coronavirus infections with over 5,600 deaths since the pandemic erupted a year ago.

"This is no way to make legitimate demands heard", the spokesman, Khaled Al-Hayouni, told the radio station.

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