Tunisia, night of riots and clashes with the police: hundreds of arrests, especially young people

These are tense days in Tunisia. With a whole new government grappling with an explosive social and economic situation. And yesterday, after the demonstrations of recent days, there was a night of unrest and clashes between groups of young people and security forces in many cities of Tunisia, despite the lockdown. Hundreds of arrests, including many minors, according to local media. The riots affected Cité Etthadamen, a popular suburb of Tunis, Sidi Hassine, Sidi Thabet, Sousse, Hammamet, Sfax, Monastir and Tozeur, among other places. The police seized numerous bottles in Sousse molotov ready to use, a petrol can and a sword.

The situation returned to normal around midnight. To disperse young people, who have defied the curfew in force due to the pandemic by setting fire tires e trying to loot shops, the police made extensive use of tear gas. Appeals to demonstrate had been launched in recent days in view of the tenth anniversary, January 14 (photo), of the expulsion of I’m Ali which marked the beginning of the “jasmine revolution” and opened the season of the so-called “Arab spring”.

Under pressure from popular discontent due to the worsening of pre-existing economic difficulties in the face of the pandemic, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi announced two days ago a large government reshuffle which concerns 12 ministries, including those of the Interior, Justice and Health. “The goal of this reshuffle is to have more effectiveness in the work of the government,” the premier told the press. The new executive, which has yet to be approved by parliament, does not include any female ministers. In announcing the premier, he explained in a short press conference that the reshuffle “was necessary in light of the upcoming challenges and the delicate phase that Tunisia is facing, with the health and social crisis it is experiencing”.

The Tunisian prime minister, who also replaced the health minister, assured that Tunisia “will have the coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible, which will be free for all”And that a distribution plan has been devised which will primarily concern certain categories considered as priorities. Tunisia has launched a series of measures for next week: lessons remain suspended in all schools, universities and vocational training centers, which will adopt distance teaching methods. The kindergartens, on the other hand, will be open again from Monday 18 January, in compliance with stringent health measures; demonstrations and rallies remain prohibited until January 24; bars and restaurants will only serve take-away until 24 January; in public administrations they will work in two shifts, while private companies are invited to adopt teleworking for as long as possible. The curfew time becomes from 8pm to 5am. The ban on travel between regions remains in force. Tunisia has recorded almost 180,000 infections since the beginning of the epidemic, over 5,500 deaths.

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