Tunisia Increases Aid to Poor to Calm Anti-Austerity Protests

Tunisia shaken by protests marks 7 years since revolution

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Tunisian police have arrested more than 770 people since anti-austerity protests broke out this week in the North African country, according to state media and the United Nations human rights office.

Friday was totally quiet, in Tunisia, after three nights of unrest. A man in his 40s died in disputed circumstances during unrest in the northern town of Tebourba on on Monday night.

Protesters torched government buildings, looted shops and blocked roads, prompting the army to deploy some 2,100 troops to different parts of the country.

Checks by the United Nations has revealed that no less than 770 protesters have been arrested by Tunisian authorities after almost a week of demonstrations over plans to raise tax and basic goods. Major Khelifa Chibani told state news agency TAP.

On Sunday, the powerful UGTT labour union called for Tunisians to rally in the capital Tunis. They waved yellow cards, and demanded the government reverse austerity measures, TAP said. There was no immediate toll for the number of protesters injured in the unrest.

President Beji Caid Essebsi was to attend 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.

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"They also blame the government for breaking the pledges it made about improving the life standards in the country as poverty and high unemployment continue".

Protests are common in Tunisia during January when many mark the anniversary of the 2011 toppling of the longtime autocratic leader, President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

Public anger has been building since January 1, when the government raised the price of gas and other items and hiked social security contributions and taxes on cars, phone calls, internet usage and hotel accommodation.

The government defends the measures as necessary to limit a budget deficit that hit six percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

While Tunisia is held up by some as the only democratic success story among countries swept up in the Arab Spring, it has had nine governments since Ben Ali's overthrow, none of which have been able to resolve deep-rooted economic problems.

But Tunisia's economy has struggled since the revolution, with growth remaining slow.

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