Clashes erupted in various cities for the second consecutive night January 10-11 as protests against a general increase in consumer prices continue. Protests were reported in the cities of Tunis, Beja, Nabeul, Qebily, Bizerte, Sidi Bouzid, Monouba, Gafsa, Kasserine, Jebeniana, Jelma, and Sfax.
Incidents of varying degrees of severity were reported: protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police forces in Siliana before trying to enter the town’s courthouse; roads were blocked by tires on fire in Kasserine; a police station was attacked in Thala; demonstrators clashed with police in Kelibia. Similar scenes were witnessed in Tebourba, Sidi Bouzid, and in the capital Tunis. Police reportedly fired teargas at the crowds in most cities.
Extra police and army officers have been deployed throughout the country since Tuesday evening. At least 237 individuals have reportedly been arrested as of January 11, according to the Ministry of the Interior. The government has threatened to impose curfews if violence continues to escalate.
Additional protests, heightened security measures, and consequent transportation disruptions are to be expected throughout Tunisia in the coming days. Particularly large gatherings are expected on Sunday, January 14, the 7th anniversary of the beginning of the Arab Spring.
The 2018 Financial Act, which includes an increase of the value-added tax (VAT) by 2 to 300 percent depending on the product, has generated a general rise in consumer prices since the implementation of its measures on January 1. According to one study, Tunisians will have to spend an extra TND 300 (USD 120) per month to cover the rise in prices, almost as much as the national monthly minimum wage (TND 357.136) for those working 48 hours per week.
The legislation was the subject of much debate in the political realm and within Tunisian society. Many economists warned against its potential negative effects, including a shift to the informal market and decreased consumption that could negatively impact Tunisia's economic growth.
Individuals in Tunisia are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of potential violence, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.