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Tunisia: Protests against Rising Prices, Tax Increases Sweep Streets

Tunisia: Protests against Rising Prices, Tax Increases Sweep Streets

Tuesday, 9 January, 2018 - 12:00
Police vehicles stop in front of burning tires set up by protesters during demonstrations against rising prices and tax increases, in Tunis, Tunisia, January 9, 2018. REUTERS/

Tunisia's economy is experiencing difficulties but 2018 will be the last year of hardship, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed promised on Tuesday.

The dashing statement came after a long night of protests against austerity measures hit Tunisian streets.

On Monday, protests erupted in more than 10 towns across Tunisia against price and tax increases imposed by the government to reduce a ballooning deficit and an economic crisis.

"People have to understand that the situation is extraordinary and their country has difficulties but we believe that 2018 will be the last difficult year for the Tunisians," Chahed told reporters in comments broadcast on local radio.

Protests have intensified in response to a reviewed tax policy and price increases guaranteed by the current fiscal law in Tunisia. The wave of protests came a day apart from the city of Tale (Kasserine, central western Tunisia) to nearby Sidi Bouzid.

The Labor Union organized a peaceful march in which slogans were raised calling for the abolition of a number of items included in the Finance Law and a ban on the cost of living.

In recent days, parties have called for peaceful demonstrations against government measures to raise prices to curb the budget deficit.

On Sunday night in the city of Tala, a protest was led by a number of young people and regional residents to block the main road to the city and ignite the rubber wheels.

The protests soon turned into confrontations with security men who fired empty rounds into the air and used tear gas to disperse protesters.

"The protests are due to spiking prices, worsening social and economic conditions, staggering unemployment rates and the lack of the region's share of national development," said organizer Hamza al-Sayhi.

In the same context, Reuters pointed to a gathering of youths in the neighborhood of flowers in the Kasserine and raised anti-government slogans and refused to raise prices and threw stones at the police.

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