Anti-Austerity Protests Simmer in Tunisia

Security forces in an armored vehicle patrol the district of Intilaka north of Tunis Tunisia Thursday Jan. 11 2018

Security forces in an armored vehicle patrol the district of Intilaka north of Tunis Tunisia Thursday Jan. 11 2018

"The number of arrested individuals has reached 778".

Anti-austerity demonstrations across Tunisia have flared into violence.

The protests draw on anger over price and tax increases included in this year's budget that took effect on January 1.

More than 770 people have been detained in almost a week of sometimes violent demonstrations. At least one person has been killed in the protests. On Friday it was mostly quiet with just 200 people protesting peacefully in the capital, a witness said.

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.

The group #Fech_Nestannew (What are we waiting for?) also called for more protests on Friday.

Protests are expected to continue through January 14, the anniversary marking the removal of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the country's former president. The government has now deployed army forces to protect public buildings which have become targets for protestors.

Tunisia hiked prices for fuel and some consumer goods, while taxes on items such as cars, phone calls, internet and hotel accommodation have also increased.

Almost 800 Tunisians have now been arrested following clashes which broke out as a result of mass demonstrations against government austerity measures.

The government has failed to resolve the issues of poverty and unemployment since the Arab Spring uprisings which began in Tunisia in 2011 and spread across the Middle East. However, deep economic woes, several terror attacks and a struggle with extremism have slowed recovery.Dr Lise Storm, senior lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, told CNN that many people were suffering real hardship but that the government had to act.

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