Tunisian protestors vow to continue uprising until whole system changes
Tunisian protesters clashed with police on Tuesday for the fifth night, as anger and frustration in the North African country mount over economic hardship worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.
The demonstrations have taken place in several cities, including the capital Tunis and Sidi Bouzid, cradle of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings.
Protesters in Tunis chanted: “The people want the fall of the regime,” reviving the chant that rang out a decade ago during the Arab Spring uprisings.
In Sidi Bouzid, where the 2011 revolution began, witnesses said police had fired tear gas to disperse protesters who were raising slogans against politicians and demanding an end to decades of marginalisation.
Clashes also broke out in poor areas of Tunis, including el-Tadamen and Sijoumi, as hundreds of angry youths burned tires and blocked roads.
Daytime protests in recent days demanding jobs, dignity and the release of detainees have been followed by nighttime violence, with COVID-19 restrictions compounding the economic problems.
“The whole system must go … We will return to the streets and we will regain our rights and our dignity that a corrupt elite seized after the revolution,” said Maher Abid, a protester who is unemployed.
The Tunisian economy, which has been crippled in recent years by high debt and declining public services, deteriorated due to the coronavirus pandemic, and a year of political instability has complicated efforts to address such issues.
Since a general election in 2019, the political class in Tunisia has been more fragmented than ever and paralyzed by infighting, fueling discontent over the continued economic crisis.
A decade ago, Tunisia was beset by violence following a massive uprising – sparked after a fruit seller set himself ablaze in the central town of Sidi Bouzid following an altercation with a police officer -- that led to the downfall of long-time ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The revolt inspired other revolutions in a host of Arab dictatorships across the Middle East and North Africa. However, Tunisia was the only nation among other Arab countries in the region that maintained a smooth, peaceful transition to democracy.