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Tunisia: Protests quiet down January 11 /update 6

Protests quiet down January 11; few clashes reported overnight January 11-12; at least 778 arrested in three nights of clashes; mass protests expected on January 14

TIMEFRAME expected from 1/9/2018, 12:00 AM until 1/14/2018, 11:59 PM (Africa/Tunis). COUNTRY/REGION Tunisia

Event

Most areas of the country remained calm overnight January 11-12 following two nights of violent unrest sparked by rising consumer prices. However, clashes were reported in Bourji (Kairouan governorate) and in Kasserine, where young protesters threw stones at police forces and blocked roads with burning tires. Only a few dozen people reportedly took part in demonstrations in Sidi Bouzid.

Extra police and army officers have been deployed throughout the country since the evening of January 9. At least 778 protesters have been arrested as of January 12, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

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.

Context

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.

Advice

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.

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