Tunisia protests dispersed as coronavirus bans extended
2021-01-24 | Since 1 Month
Hundreds of protesters joined anti-government demonstrators in the Tunisian capital as extensions were confirmed to curfews and a ban on public gatherings.
Demonstrators marched on the city’s Avenue Bourguiba demanding economic changes and the release of those arrested during clashes with police over the last week.
Tunisia has been hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus as its tourism industry ground a to a halt. More than one in three are unemployed, according to the World Bank, and GDP has shrunk by 9 per cent while consumer prices continue to increase.
Protesters denounce what they say are broken economic promises of government.
On Saturday, security forces struggled to contain demonstrators as they denounced police repression.
“No more fear, the street belongs to the people!” shouted protesters The crowd also chanted the slogan of Tunisia’s 2010-2011: “Employment, freedom, dignity.”
Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd after two hours – the time frame authorised for the protest.
According to new virus rules announced on Saturday, gatherings will be prohibited in public areas until February 14 and the country’s existing 8pm-5am curfew will also be extended until then, Tunisian Health Ministry spokesperson Nissaf Ben Alaya said.
A group of around 100 protesters marched through downtown Tunis last Monday, shouting slogans calling for government reform and for both Prime Minister Hichem Michichi and Speaker of Parliament Rached Ghannouchi to step down.
About 1,000 people have been arrested, human rights groups have estimated.
The IMF expects Tunisia’s GDP growth to rebound to 3.8 per cent this year as the effects of the pandemic-induced economic crisis begin to wane.