Unrest continues in Tunisia, hundreds arrested

A demonstrating graduate shouts slogans during protests against rising prices and tax increases in Tunis on Tuesday

MoreCloseclosemoreA demonstrating graduate shouts slogans during protests against rising prices and tax increases in Tunis on Tuesday

A brief period of calm returned on Wednesday before demonstrators again took to the streets of Tebourba, a town west of the capital Tunis, where the death of the protester occurred, in the evening.

Five people were wounded and brought to a hospital, TAP said.

While Tunisia is widely seen as the only democratic success story among the nations where Arab spring uprisings took place, it has since had nine governments but none has been able to tackle growing economic problems.

Tunisia's unity government - which includes Islamists, secular parties and independents - has portrayed the unrest as driven by criminal elements, and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has accused the opposition of fuelling dissent. But public anger has been rising after a tough new budget was applied at the start of the year, increasing value added tax (VAT) and social contributions.

Among those arrested were two men who orchestrated the storming of a police station in the town of Nefza. Meanwhile terrorist attacks such as the massacre in Sousse in 2015 in which 38 people, mostly British holidaymakers, were killed, have damaged the country's once-flourishing tourism industry. The wave of protests came a day apart from the city of Tale (Kasserine, central western Tunisia) to nearby Sidi Bouzid.

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Opposition forces have called for halting the implementation of the 2018 budget and rolling back on austerity measures by the government and vowed to escalate the rallies in the coming days. Witnesses told the news media they believed the man had been struck by a security vehicle, but the Interior Ministry said in a statement that he had had chronic shortness of breath and that his body showed no signs of violence or of having been run over.

"The sharp decline of the dinar threatens to deepen the trade deficit and make debt service payments tighter, which will increase Tunisia's financial difficulties", he said.

The revolution in Tunisia began in the town in December 2010 after street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire and later died in a protest over unemployment and police harassment that spiralled into Mr Ben Ali's overthrow.

Authorities promised the International Monetary Fund (IMF) they would cut spending in exchange for a $2.9 billion (U.S.) loan that year.

Hammami said the government's austerity measures were to blame for the economic situation. Large protests that year forced the ouster of longtime dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

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