Tunisia marks low key revolution anniversary

2017-01-15 07:01
Ousted Tunisian president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. (AFP)

Ousted Tunisian president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. (AFP)

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Tunis - Tunisia on Saturday marked the sixth anniversary of the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali without fanfare, after official recognition of failure on the economic and social fronts.

On the anniversary of the uprising which inspired Arab Spring revolts across the region, several protests were staged and the presidential convoy was stoned by demonstrators.

In Tunis, a crowd gathered on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in the presence of political and civil society groups, but local media said no other ceremonies appeared to have been organised elsewhere in Tunisia.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed acknowledged on national television on Friday night that authorities had so far failed to address the grievances of the Tunisian people that had fuelled the 2011 revolution.

"If we want this democracy to become strong and resistant, we must achieve the economic and social objectives of the revolution, namely the economy and dignity," he said.

"Today, we are not achieving this because unemployment and social inequalities have increased," said Chahed.

President Beji Caid Essebsi on Saturday announced a package of new projects during a visit to the central province of Gafsa.

According to Nessma, a private television channel, however, security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters hurling stones at Essebsi's convoy.

An AFP correspondent said dozens of jobless demonstrators in Sidi Bouzid, a town in central Tunisia and birthplace of the anti-Ben Ali uprising, chanted "Work is a right, bunch of thieves" and other slogans from the revolution.

Similar demonstrations were staged on a road to a nearby town, with protesters burning tires, and in Meknassi, also close to Sidi Bouzid, where a general strike has been declared in protest at a lack of development.

Tunisian authorities have struggled to restore the economy and reduce youth unemployment -- particularly among new graduates -- over the past six years.

In January 2016, the government imposed a nationwide nighttime curfew after Tunisia witnessed some of its worst social unrest since the revolution.

Anger erupted after the death of a 28-year-old unemployed man who was electrocuted when he climbed a power pole while protesting in the central town of Kasserine.

That unrest had echoes of the public anger after the death of a young fruit seller who set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid in December 2010 in protest at unemployment and police harassment.

Read more on:    tunisia  |  zine el abidine ben ali  |  north africa

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