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|Clashes have erupted in central Tunisia between police and demonstrators as instability continues to plague the North African country.Dozens of protesters tried on Wednesday to force their way into the offices of the ruling Islamist party Ennahda in the town of Kasserine, but were pushed away by tear gas fired by police, an AFP journalist reported.
Central Tunisia has long suffered from neglect and a lack of opportunity, which were driving factors behind the popular uprising that began in nearby Sidi Bouzid in 2011, when a young street vendor set himself on fire in protest at his impoverished circumstances.
It was on Wednesday exactly three years ago that the first protester was killed in Kasserine during the uprising in the Arab Spring’s birthplace that toppled the long-time ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Kasserine is one of the poorest regions of Tunisia and was a hotbed of unrest during the revolt.
In the village of Thala, which lies in the Kasserine region and had already witnessed clashes on Tuesday evening, protesters attacked a police post, partially burning it and driving away the security forces, witnesses said.
Shops and public offices remained closed in Kasserine as hundreds protested in the streets on Wednesday. They shouted slogans such as “The people want the fall of the regime”, the rallying cry of the Arab Spring.
A policeman was injured during the clashes after he was hit by a tear gas canister fired at him by one of his colleagues.
Al Jazeera’s Youssef Gaigi, reporting from Tunis on Wednesday, said conditions had not improved since the 2011 mass protests.
“People continue to pay a very high price for the revolution. Unemployment is high and conditions have worsened,” he said.
The better living conditions sought by many young Tunisians have failed to materialise, resulting in discontent over new taxes and government shortcomings.
Anger has been growing of late over proposed 2014 budget, which is critics say will negatively affect the middle and working classes through increases in taxes and cuts in subsidies.
The following seven minutes of mayhem look eerily reminiscent of the violent pre-ambles to the middle-east’s recent coups or non-coups. As anti-government protesters demonstrated against the shunning of a European trade agreement (President Yanukovych – “I will not allow any serious economic losses and decline of living standards”); the clashes became ever more violent as the police cracked down. Following heavyweight boxing champion (and opposition leader) Vitali Klitschko’s call for a new government – “our main task is Yanukovych’s resignation. But the first step is the resignation of Azarov’s government” – the clashes left at least 265 people injured. The crackdown followed Interior Minister comments that they “won’t allow Ukraine to become another Libya or Tunisia, where uprisings toppled governments in recent years.” Of course, the main difference is the Ukraine is now squarely under Putin’s sphere of influence.
0:20 Initial fireworks followed by police flash-bangs and tear gas…
1:45 Some standard police beatings
3:00 Ubiquitous projectile exchange
3:30 Police charge…
4:30 Serious police beatings handed out
5:30 The two fronts stare each other down
6:00 Serious police reinforcements
- Tunisia faces street protests after opposition politician slain – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Tunisia on the brink of conflict after Mohammed Brahmi funeral (guardian.co.uk)
- Turmoil hits Tunisia after secular politician slain – Reuters UK (uk.reuters.com)
- Bradley Manning faces life in jail: an ugly moment in US history (theweek.co.uk)
- Manning helped pierce the veil of secrecy in Guantanamo (rt.com)
- Infographic: Is Bradley Manning A Hero Or A Traitor? (theonion.com)
- ‘Traitor Or Hero?’ Asking The Wrong Questions About Manning And Snowden (forbes.com)
- Statement by Julian Assange on Verdict in Bradley Manning Court-Martial (economicpolicyjournal.com)
- Bradley Manning is no traitor but he must still go to jail (thetimes.co.uk)