Alwaght- Over 500 protesters have been arrested in Tunisia and the army deployed in several cities to help quell violent anti-government protests in Tunisia by citizens protesting harsh living conditions.
In Thala, near the Algerian border, soldiers deployed after crowds torched the region’s national security building, forcing police to retreat from the town.
Tunisia’s unity government says unrest as driven by criminal elements, and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has accused the opposition of fueling dissent.
Tunisians from different backgrounds are taking to the streets, though most are young. They include large numbers of students and the unemployed, many in towns that are in the neglected interior of Tunisia, away from the wealthier coastal areas.
Demonstrators are angry at price and tax rises, imposed by the government to cut a soaring deficit and meet demands of international lenders. But protests are also fuelled by the lack of major economic improvement since the ousting in 2011 of the autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. There is also widespread disillusionment with Tunisia’s political elite. One main protest group – Fesh Nestannew? (What Are We Waiting For?) – wants a return to the spirit of the 2011 revolt, demanding “employment, freedom, and national dignity”. The revolt was sparked by the death in 2010 of Mohamed Bouazizi, a street seller who set himself on fire in a protest over unemployment and police harassment.
While Tunisia is widely seen as the only democratic success story among Arab spring states, it has had nine governments since the overthrow of the authoritarian leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
Seven years the popular Islamic uprising, Tunisia is praised as a model of transition but it still struggles to address demands for jobs and opportunities in marginalized regions.