Tunisian government hoping days of protests are subsiding


Authorities said Friday the number of people detained in the wave of violent protests had risen to almost 800, after a provincial town was hit by a night of unrest over the austerity measures.

"This will concern about 250,000 families", Trabelsi said.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi was to hold talks Saturday with political parties, unions and employers to discuss means to overcome unrest triggered by austerity measures.

Friday was totally quiet, in Tunisia, after three nights of unrest.

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Tunisia plans to increase support for the poor, a government source said Saturday after anger over price and tax increases led to protests and hundreds of arrests.

Tunisian security forces have restored calm across the national territory starting from last night, interior ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani said Friday morning.

Correspondents reported one small protest overnight Friday in the central city of Sidi Bouzid - the cradle of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising - and said police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

One man died in the unrest on Monday night, but the authorities have insisted the police were not responsible for this.

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In a written statement, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said authorities must ensure that people are not arrested in an arbitrary manner and that their rights are respected.

While the Interior Ministry Spokesman Khelifa Chibani has said "what is happening is crime, not protests", campaigners accuse the government of an "indiscriminate" crackdown.

The fresh protests draw on anger over price and tax increases included in this year's budget that took effect on January 1. Two major militant attacks in 2015 also greatly damaged the country's tourism industry, which made up eight percent of gross domestic product. This has caused prices and taxes to rise across a range of essential goods and services, like fuel, cars and internet use.

The leader of Tunisia's main opposition party Popular Front, Hamma Hammami, said they would step up protests until the government changed its "unjust" 2018 budget. The unemployment rate at the end of past year amounted to more than 15 percent, the annual inflation rate was 6.4 percent.

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