Tunisia plans to increase support for poor families

Tunisia plans to increase support for poor families

It is noted that all the protests that have been ongoing since Monday, January 8, arrested more than 600 people, about half of them in the last day.

A spokesman for the Tunisian interior ministry, Khalifa Chibani, said: "The protests have decline and there was no vandalism or destruction last night, but the police arrested 150 individuals involved in acts of vandalism and rioting committed in the past few days".

In an arrest breakdown by age, 54.95 percent of the detainees are aged between 21 and 30, 31 percent between 15 and 20, 11.71 percent between 31 and 40 and 1.8 percent over 40, Chibani said.

He said 97 policemen and members of the security forces had been injured over the week. Several police stations have been set on fire.

Calm returned to the country on Thursday night and there was "no attack against public or private property" in the night of Friday to Saturday, Chibani said.

Protesters marched peacefully Saturday in the city of Sidi Bouzid against the government's austerity measures, TAP reported.

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Scores of students and activists from the group #Fech_Nestannew (What are we waiting for?) continued the protest in Tunis on Friday, according to TAP. "This will concern about 250,000 families", he said.

In a written statement, Rupert Colville, spokesman 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. But political infighting, repeated strikes, demonstrations and terrorist attacks have complicated efforts by elected governments to engineer the kind of economic revival Tunisians had envisaged when they pushed Ben Ali from power.

At least one person has died since Sunday, when protests against an unpopular new Finance Act, which saw price hikes and Value-Added Tax increases imposed from January 1, first broke out in the capital, Tunis, and across the country. They come at a time when Tunisia's economy is struggling and many people are suffering real hardship.

Tunisia, whose economy has been hit by a collapse in tourism revenues following a wave of jihadist attacks in 2015, has secured a 2.4-billion-euro ($2.9-billion) International Monetary Fund loan in return for a reduction in its budget deficit and financial reforms.

"We believe that dialogue and reforms are still possible", said Henda Chennaoui of the Fech Nestannew campaign.

The opposition bloc "people's front" rejected the accusations and called for a large-scale protest on Sunday, January 14, on the seventh anniversary of "the Second Jasmine revolution" and the overthrow of President Ben Ali.

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