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Tunisian Opposition Adopts ‘Bread Protests’ after First Death Reported

Tunisian Opposition Adopts ‘Bread Protests’ after First Death Reported

Wednesday, 10 January, 2018 - 07:15
Protesters clash with riot police attempting to disperse the crowd during demonstrations against rising prices and tax increases, in Tebourba, Tunisia, January 9, 2018. (Reuters)

The first death was reported on Tuesday during Tunisia’s social protests that had erupted on Sunday over rising prices.

The casualty was reported in the ongoing clashes with security forces in Tebourba, 40km west of the capital Tunis.

The ruling coalition parties (mainly Nahda and Nidaa) considered the protests to be destructive operations led by leftist “chaotic” parties, as stated by the head of Nahda Movement Rashed al-Ghanoushi. The opposition parties – led by the Leftist Popular Front – expressed however their support for the protests and called for canceling the 2018 Finance Act.

In remarks on Tuesday, Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef al-Chahed said that recent developments were not “protests, but looting, vandalism and an assault on citizens and their properties,” vowing to apply the law on whom he called as “vandals”.

“Whoever wants to demonstrate comes out in the day, not at night… The government is ready to listen to anyone, and we support and protect those who want to demonstrate peacefully,” he stated.

On the other hand, the Popular Front expressed its support for the protests against the Finance Act of 2018.

In this context, the Front organized a press conference on Tuesday under the title: “Let’s face the budget of impoverishing the people and destroying the economy.”

Speaking on the occasion, Labor Party Member Humma al-Hamami underlined the legitimacy of the protests against the hike of prices in the new finance law.

“Deviations and looting, which accompanied the protests in a number of areas near the capital, are attempts to distort these peaceful movements and to change their course”, he said.

In the meantime, Khalifa al-Shaibani, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, denied the news of the death of a demonstrator in Tebourba after reports said that he was run over by a security vehicle.

He said that the medical staff that administered first aid confirmed that his body did not have any traces of violence, explaining that the deceased was suffering from respiratory problems.

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