Tunisia Will Increase Aid For Poor In Response To Protests

Tunisia president meets unions employers after unrest

Tunisia president meets unions employers after unrest

According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent covering Friday's demonstration, several protesters tried to breach a security barrier set up outside the provincial headquarters but were prevented from doing so by police.

Essebsi was expected to discuss a way out of the latest crisis with representatives of political parties, the powerful UGTT trade union and the UTICA employers federation.

The unrest comes ahead of Sunday's seventh anniversary of the revolution that toppled the dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, an event that sparked similar uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and Syria.

On Friday, police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of demonstrators protesting in the Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid, considered the epicenter of the Arab Spring in 2011.

However, Tunisian authorities have been swift to quash anti-government protests.

Nearly 800 people have been arrested for vandalism and violence such as throwing petrol bombs at police stations, the interior ministry said on Friday.

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

Protesters are primarily taking issue with a new finance act in the country, which had led to increases in the value-added tax and consumer prices.

Among the hundreds arrested on Tuesday were two radical Islamists who had helped storm a police station in Nefza town, the interior ministry spokesman said.

A man in his 40s died in unrest on Monday night in the northern town of Tebourba though police have insisted they did not kill him. "What happened had nothing to do with democracy and protests against price hikes".

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 Ennahda Islamist party, which governs in a coalition with secularists, called for the minimum monthly wage to be hiked to 357 dinars ($143) and for more aid for poor families, echoing calls by labour unions. "Today we have a meeting with the opposition parties to coordinate our movements, but we will stay on the street and we will increase the pace of the protests until the unjust financial law will be dropped", Hammami said.

But frustration has grown among many Tunisians over economic stagnation and unemployment.

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