The Tunisian government refused on Thursday to bow to the demands of the protesters, asserting that it would not cancel any clause from the controversial austerity fiscal law.
“The state is strong, will shoulder its responsibility and will not go back on a law because a number of saboteurs have gone out on the street,” said Investment Minister Ziad al-Aazari.
“The state will listen to civilized protests,” he said, noting that Prime Minister Youssef al-Chahed will announce in due course measures that will complement the social action.
Meanwhile, Interior Ministry spokesman Khalifa al-Shaibani said on Thursday that security forces have arrested some 330 people involved in sabotage and robbery on Wednesday night, bringing the number of detainees since the start of violent protests on Monday to about 600 people. Authorities said that violence, fueled by years of popular discontent, has receded.
In this regard, observers believe that the government has three solutions to defuse the crisis. The first is to announce the suspension of increase in prices, or move towards the adoption of a supplementary financial law to compensate for the lost funds because of the retreat from economic reforms. The third solution is to confront the protests with security solutions, which would threaten the country’s security and stability.
“Protesters are not entitled to overthrow the current regime because it is a democratically elected regime,” said government spokesman Iyad Dahmani.
He strongly criticized the positions of the leftist Popular Front coalition and its support for protest movements, saying that some political parties were not keeping up with the democratic transition in the country.
The Popular Front coalition held a press conference on Thursday, in which it responded to the accusations by Chahed against the movement leaders.
“The prime minister’s statement is irresponsible. Hama Hamami, leader of the leftist alliance, said, calling on Chahed to hold a television or radio debate in which Tunisians would be “witnesses to government choices and discuss the suffering of poor social groups.”
Hammami added that the prime minister’s accusation of the Popular Front was “just an attempt to evade the unfair measures taken by the ruling coalition.”