Tumult in Tunisia: Protesters, Police Clash as Unrest Enters Fourth Day

Tunisia: Protests against Rising Prices, Tax Increases Sweep Streets

Tunisia: Protests against Rising Prices, Tax Increases Sweep Streets

Tunisian police walk past a police vehicle that was damaged during demonstrations the previous night in the northern town of Tebourba on Thrusday following the third night of protests in Tunisia.

More than 200 people were arrested and dozens hurt during clashes in several parts of Tunisia, the interior ministry said Wednesday, after a second night of unrest driven by anger over austerity measures.

Demonstrations broke out in the North African country Sunday spreading since then to more than 20 towns as people protest against new tax and price increases imposed by the government on January 1 to reduce a ballooning deficit and satisfy foreign lenders.

Demonstrations began last week over the government's budget, which includes higher taxes and spending cuts.

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Tunisia is widely seen as the only democratic success story among the Arab Spring nations, it has also had nine governments since then, none of which have been able to deal with growing economic problems. One protester has died, and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has called for calm. The wave of protests came a day apart from the city of Tale (Kasserine, central western Tunisia) to nearby Sidi Bouzid. Police said they did not kill him and said he had a respiratory condition, according to The Guardian.

Some protesters told Xinhua that the new law has led to the price increase in some consumer products, as it doesn't meet the expectations of the middle class, but harms the purchasing capacity of the Tunisians.

The powerful UGTT trade union said young unemployed Tunisians had legitimate demands but condemned the "violence and looting", calling for peaceful protests.

"All we are asking for now is to wait", insisted Chahed, and he assured that 2018 will be the past year for some austerity measures given the positive economic indicators detected by his government.

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"Stuck between the International Monetary Fund and a restive population, the government can not simply try to please both and will need to come up with a new economic policy and narrative to break out of this impasse", said Riccardo Fabiani, senior North Africa analyst with Eurasia Group in London.

The debt service also reached a record high, with a year-on-year rise of 59.1 percent until the end of last October.

Tunisian Army troops are working alongside police in many cities across the country to help defend government property.

Egyptian political sociologist Said Sadek tells VOA economic issues that prompted the 2011 Arab Spring revolution, which overthrew then President Zein al Abdine Ben Ali, still plague the country.

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