Persisting poverty, Corruption, surge in vale added tax, rising prices, unabated unemployment, Tunisians marked on Sunday seven years since the uprising that launched the Arab Spring, with fresh protests after days of unrest over economy languishing low ebb and no sight of recovery of unemployment.
Tunisia had a relatively smooth democratic transition since the January 14, 2011 toppling of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power, an African the nation with rich history of prosperity.
After the Arab springs of seven years , public anger has risen over new austerity measures after a year of rising prices, with protesters again chanting the 2011 slogans of “Work, Freedom, Dignity”.
Ks of people took part in the protest outside the UGTT offices. “The people want the fall of the 2018 budget,” some chanted, echoing 2011 calls for the fall of the regime.
Hundreds more gathered after Ennahdha, an Islamist party that is part of the ruling coalition, and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed’s Popular Front party also called for demonstrations.
President Beji Caid Essebsi marked the anniversary by attending the opening of a youth centre in the working-class Tunis suburb of Ettadhamen, which saw night-time clashes between young protesters and police this week.“This year we will start to take care of the young,”
On Sunday, hundreds gathered in the capital, Tunis, responding to calls to protest from a powerful labour union and several political parties.
Security was tight as protesters poured through checkpoints into the capital’s Habib Bourguiba Avenue, which was the epicentre of the 2011 protests.
Demonstrators chanted against “poverty and hunger” as they marched up the avenue, accusing “thieves” of having stolen the country.
Outside the offices of the powerful UGTT trade union, demonstrator Foued el-Arbi waved an empty basket marked 2018. “This empty basket sums up our situation seven years after the revolution,” said the philosophy professor.
A wave of peaceful protests and night-time unrest hit cities and towns across the country this past week, after hikes in value-added tax and social security contributions introduced in early January.
The interior ministry says it has arrested more than 800 people suspected of taking part in violence, theft and looting since the start of the unrest.
Protester demands have included a review of the 2018 austerity budget and more efficient measures to fight enduring corruption.