Heavy clashes expected as Tunisians rally over strict austerity measures

Heavy clashes expected as Tunisians rally over strict austerity measures

In response to the austerity measures imposed by the government’s new Finance Act, Tunisian protesters are expected to come out

tunisia-austerity-protests

Photo: Zohra Bensemra

In response to the austerity measures imposed by the government’s new Finance Act, Tunisian protesters are expected to come out in force today in Tunis.

This follows a week of unrest, which saw a surge in violent protests that resulted in dozens of state buildings being damaged, mass looting, one death and at least 800 detentions.

The new measures aim to reduce the budget deficit and placate international lenders, who extended a $2.9 billion loan in 2016 in exchange for civil service cuts and greater fiscal prudence. This has caused prices and taxes to rise across a range of essential goods and services, like fuel, cars and internet use.

Today’s protests also mark the seventh anniversary of ex-autocrat Ben Ali’s overthrow, symbolising that many of the structural problems that caused the revolt remain unaddressed and underpin current frustrations.

While the Interior Ministry Spokesman Khelifa Chibani has said “what is happening is crime, not protests”, campaigners accuse the government of an “indiscriminate” crackdown. Given the government’s reaction so far, today will likely result in heavy clashes.

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