Violent Clashes in Southern Tunisia Over Lack of Jobs

Demonstrators have been demanding authorities to keep a 2017 promise to provide jobs in the gas and oil sector to thousands of unemployed.

Hundreds of Tunisian demonstrators clashed Monday for a second day straight with security forces who fired tear gas to disperse them, AFP has reported.

Protesters in the southern city of Tataouine burned tires and pelted security forces with stones to demand jobs and the release of activist Tarek Haddad, who was arrested Sunday, as security forces responded with tear gas.

Haddad is a key figure in the protest movement. The governor of Tataouine, Adel Werghi, said Haddad was “wanted” by the authorities, without providing further details.

The interior ministry said 10 people were arrested Sunday after a group of protesters tried to attack police stations with Molotov cocktails.

Defense ministry spokesman Mohamed Zekr said the army was deployed outside state establishments.

Demonstrators have been demanding authorities to implement a 2017 deal to provide jobs in the gas and oil sector to thousands of unemployed.

For weeks they have blocked roads around the remote El-Kamour pumping station to prevent tanker trucks from entering the facility, but the protest had been largely peaceful.

In 2017, protesters blockaded El-Kamour for three months demanding jobs.

The sit-in ended after the employment minister signed a deal with representatives of the protesters, pledging an investment of 80 million Tunisian dinars a year (almost US$28 million). Protesters say the promise was never kept.

The clashes come as Tunisia, until now largely spared by the worst of the coronavirus, faces tensions within its coalition government and the impact of restrictions imposed to combat the spread of the pandemic that have deepened inequalities.

Ten years after a popular uprising ended Tunisia’s former autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s rule, the country is still struggling to deliver economic opportunities to unemployed youth in marginalized regions like Tataouine. (TELESUR)

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