Protests paralysing parts of Tunisia a year after revolution


TUNIS: A spate of protest actions are paralysing parts of Tunisia a year after the north African country’s popular revolt sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.

In the poor farming region of Siliana, a general strike has brought activity to a complete halt in several locations, the TAP news agency reported.

Schools and several roads were closed and groups of strikers blocked access to small communes using tyres and barricades as they demonstrated for jobs, housing and regional development.

In the northwest of the country, both the jobless and workers demanding higher wages on Tuesday blocked a national road and halted traffic between the Kef and Jendouba regions.

“We have seen an outbreak of protest movements and sit-ins,” government spokesman Samir Dilou told radio Mosaique FM.

The spokesman called for dialogue and patience, saying: “We are going through a difficult period. I am asking them to take the interest of the country into consideration.”

Tunisia’s revolution, which culminated in a peaceful election in October, has inspired reform movements throughout the Middle East, including the uprisings that toppled Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Moamer Kadhafi in Libya.

The new authorities in Tunisia still face soaring unemployment of 19 percent nationally — up to 50 percent in certain inland areas overlooked for investment in the past.

Ordinary people are also increasingly frustrated about the enduring corruption.

More than 500 strikes or sit-ins were recorded in 2011 in Tunisia where strongman Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was forced into exile a year ago last Saturday.

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