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Protests hit Tunisia for 3rd night as prime minister warns of clampdown

13 January 2018

One person was killed on Monday during clashes between security forces and protesters in a Tunisian town near the capital Tunis, state news agency TAP and residents said. Fresh clashes were reported across several towns for a third night on Wednesday.

The 2018 budget also raises customs taxes on some imports, and the Tunis government is trying to cut the public sector wage bill through voluntary redundancies.

Chahed, who heads a coalition of secular and Islamist parties, has said that 2018 will be a hard year for Tunisia but the economy will improve rapidly once the new measures take effect.

This policy, along with the cooperation of the Islamic Ennahdha [Renaissance] Party, a partner in the coalition, has made Tunisia the only success story of the "Arab Spring", and it appears that despite the difficulties it will continue to show stability despite the internal protest.

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And more demonstrations are planned in the coming days to mark seven years since the ouster of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, 2011.

In an update to its travel advice for the country, the FCO said there had been protests in several towns and cities across Tunisia, with some reports of violence.

Khelifa Chibani, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said 44 people had been arrested for carrying weapons such as knives, ´setting government buildings on fire and looting shops.

Speculation on social media throughout Monday evening suggested that the man had died after being hit by a security forces vehicle, but the ministry refuted this claim, saying it was likely he had suffocated from inhaling tear gas.

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Prime Minister Yousef Chahed has said the riots have descended into "acts of vandalism", he added: "What happened is violence that we can not accept".

Tunisian protesters stand near tear gas smoke fired by security forces in the Ettadhamen on the outskirts of Tunis late Wednesday, after price hikes ignited protests in the North African country.

In Kasserine, Raja Jassoumi, 33, a project manager with a nonprofit, said people had to be budget-conscious even when buying a loaf of bread, "so when you announce the increase of prices on fuel and other goods, it is the straw that broke the camel's back". Prime Minister Youssef Chahed called for calm, while at the same time affirming the right to demonstrate in the streets.

Some protesters told Xinhua that the new law has led to the price increase in some consumer products, as it doesn't meet the expectations of the middle class, but harms the purchasing capacity of the Tunisians.

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The belt-tightening was promised to the International Monetary Fund as its price for the $2.9 billion loan it extended in 2016 to Tunisia, which is still laboring to revive its economy seven years after the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the first of the Arab Spring dictators to fall.

Protests hit Tunisia for 3rd night as prime minister warns of clampdown