Today, around 150 inhabitants of Sidi Bouzid held a protest demanding the removal of government officials who, the protesters claim, have failed to respond to ongoing water shortages affecting the region.
According to Mohamed Najib, the governor of Sidi Bouzid, the protesters attacked the governorate headquarters with stones before being forcibly dispersed by the police. Anis Chouaibi, a citizen journalist who lives in Sidi Bouzid, reported that the police used both tear gas and rubber bullets to remove the protesters.
Chouaibi stated that several of the demonstrators were injured when the police shot into the crowd. He stated that the worst injury was suffered by a 21 year-old protester named Saddam Akrami, who was shot and had to be taken to the regional hospital.
Chouaibi went to the hospital following the protest, and reported that five people were hospitalized due to injuries caused by tear gas. He was also able to visit Akrami, who, according to Chouaibi, “is fine. He was in a steady condition, and a doctor was with him.”
Chouaibi stated that the demonstrators also demanded that the government release four people who were arrested last Sunday for participating in another protest denouncing the water shortages. He also said that during the clash, protestors specifically called for the replacement of the Ennahdha appointed governor, Mohamed Najib.
Najib asserted that the protesters were holding signs and chanting slogans that demanded the removal of Ennahdha in general. Chouaibi stated that the protesters used a number of slogans popularized during the uprising against the regime of Tunisia’s former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, shouting “degáge!(get out!)” when they called for Ennahdha to resign from power.
Chouaibi explained, “People are fed up. The water has been cut-off for a long time in Sidi Bouzid. People have been asking the new Ennahdha appointed governor to find solutions for the water shortages, but the government has not acted.”
According to Mohamed Najib Gharbi, the press attaché of Ennahdha, the Sidi Bouzid protesters do not represent a majority of Tunisians. “Today’s protest is basically a movement fueled by different, small political parties. The people who protested today were a minority, and their number did not exceed 150.”
Gharbi also called into question the legitimacy of some the demonstrators demands. “Everyone has the right to ask for employment, and the improvement of their living standards. But nobody has the right to call for a national uprising, and that’s what these people wanted. These groups don’t respect the law, and are against democracy. They are anarchist groups, and today we saw that that are weak.”
Najib stated that six people were arrested following today’s unrest, and that currently the situation is quiet and under control.