Tunisia rallies simmer before Arab Spring anniversary

Tunisia rallies simmer before Arab Spring anniversary
From Al Jazeera - January 10, 2018

Hundreds of people clashed with police, blocked roads and burned tires overnight in a northern Tunisian city, with more protests expected before January 14 - the anniversary marking the ouster ofZine El AbidineBen Ali, the country's former president.

At least eight security officers were injured in the coastal town of Nabeul during clashes with young protestors late on Tuesday,according to Tunisia's press agency TAP.

TAP reported that six government vehicles were also destroyed, while 23 persons were arrested.

In the neighbouring city of Kelibia, an estimated 300 demonstrators fought with police, and some were accused of looting a shopping centre, TAP also reported.

Individuals with "criminal records" infiltrated the protests in Kelibia, in the Nabeul governorate, TAP said.

At least five people were injured in the protests.

In Jebeniana and Sfax, protesters peacefully marched through the two cities. Members of civil society, young people and unemployed graduates were seen marching with schoolchildren and women, according to TAP.

The protesters chanted slogans warning the government of further action if it fails to help curb basic prices of goods.

Protests were also reported in Gafsa and Tebourba, a town of less than 30,000 west of the capital Tunis.

Similar clashes were seen in the impoverished inland regions of Kasserine and Jelma, near Sidi Bouzid, where protests, which sparked the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that ousted Ben Ali, started.

'What are we waiting for?'

Earlier on Tuesday,Tunisia's main opposition Popular Front partycalled for protests against a January 1 law raising fuel prices and increasing real estate tax.

The group #Fech_Nestannew (What are we waiting for?) also called on more protests in the governorates on January 12.

The protest movement began spontaneously after a few people tagged the phrase on walls across the cities in Tunisia.

On Monday, one person was killed following violence in Tebourba. A video circulating on Facebook on Tuesday purportedly showed how police ran over the 55-year-old man, but the country's interior ministry denied the allegations and insisted he died from "chronic shortness of breath".

'Only promises'

Med Dhia Hammami, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that he expects more protests leading to the Sunday anniversary of of the Arab Spring uprisings, also known in Tunisia as the Jasmine Revolution.

Hammami, who attended the protests in capital Tunis on Tuesday, told Al Jazeera that an estimated 400 people attended the protest.

Six years since the 2011 uprising that overthrew Ben Ali, Tunisia has been held up as a model by avoiding the violence that affected other nations after their Arab Spring revolts.

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