Tunisia’s Government Pledges Improvements After Protests
TUNIS — The Tunisian authorities are moving to defuse the anger that has driven protesters to the streets over the past week and led to hundreds of arrests.
Read our last post where we noted: “Protests will continue to spread until the government announces concessions.”
As still more people gathered on Sunday to mark the seventh anniversary of the Tunisian revolution, a wave that set off the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, the government said it was taking steps to ease the plight of the poor and the jobless. Among the measures: Government aid to needy families will be increased to $86 a month from $61, with about 120,000 families getting extra help, they said.
Traveling to Tunisia?
Will it be enough?
The opposition Popular Front, a coalition of leftist parties, mocked the measures in a statement on Sunday and called for protests “until suspension of the measures in the finance law that affect citizens’ buying power.”
And the protesters seemed little mollified as they rallied on Habib Bourguiba avenue, the site of large protests that in 2011 toppled the dictator . Coming from across the political spectrum, they seemed united on at least one issue: dissatisfaction with the current government.
For all the latest Security News on Tunisia:
Government officials acknowledge that the events of the past week reflect despair among the people, but argue that they can put the country back on track. They have pointed to positive indicators like the return of tourism and improved growth. About 6.7 million tourists came to Tunisia in 2017, up from 4.5 million in 2016.
Additionally, the government hopes to bring unemployment down to no more than 12.5 percent, from the current 15 percent. This is all well and good but here they have major issues ahead:
A recent poll published by the International Republican Institute found that an overwhelming majority of Tunisians consider the economic situation “very bad.”
The International Crisis Group recent report about the authoritarian drift “showed that there is a fertile ground for social anger that needs to be taken into account.”
Translation: The Protests may subsided but we can expect more social unrest and public displeasure in the coming months.