Tunisian protesters burned down a regional national security headquarters near the Algerian border, prompting authorities to send in troops after police retreated, witnesses said, as unrest over prices and taxes raged on nationwide.
But the government, under pressure to cut a ballooning deficit and satisfy international lenders, will not revise austerity measures in the 2018 budget despite the spate of protests, Tunisia’s investment minister said on Thursday.
The army has been deployed in Kebeli, Bizerte and the seaside resort city of Sousse among other towns to protect government buildings that have been targeted by protesters. Around 600 people have been arrested, including more than 300 overnight between Wednesday and Thursday.
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has accused the opposition of inciting unrest. Rejecting the charge, the main opposition bloc, the Popular Front, called for a major protest in Tunis on Sunday to coincide with the seventh anniversary of Ben Ali’s fall.
Anti-government protests have flared in a number of cities and towns since Monday against price and tax increases.
While Tunisia is regarded as the only democratic success story among countries swept up in the Arab Spring, it has had nine governments since Ben Ali’s overthrow, none of which have been able to resolve deep-rooted economic problems.