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An Ultimatum to Stop Protests Amid Coronavirus Curfew: Tunisia

The youth protestors who came out for a fifth night of the protest, breaking the coronavirus curfew have been warned to stop by the Prime Minister of Tunisia. The arrest of protestors has crossed a total of 600, most of which are aged between 14 and 15 after a series of clashes. This anger is a result of economic and social hardships which were acknowledged by Prime Minister, Mechichi.
Despite the acknowledgment of a crisis, the Prime Minister does not encourage chaos and will use the force of law to stop any such actions. In a speech, he requested the protestors to stop all kinds of vandalism and looting, stating the validation of their anger and right to demand better economic and social conditions.
Tunisia’s third of the younger population is currently unemployed and the country faces a major economic crisis. The pandemic has only made it worse and a night-time curfew has been a regular since October 2020.
The protest started amid a four-day lockdown which was applied to curb the Covid-19. It also coincided with the 10th anniversary of the revolution that ushered in democracy and instigated the Arab Spring revolts across the region. The densely populated and the underprivileged areas have seen the riots grow over the five days. Adding to it is also the tense relationship between the youth and the police, which is not helping in ease down the situation in any way.
The use of excessive force by the Tunisian police has been criticized by Amnesty International. The week after the night clashes began, saw small daytime gatherings where protestors demanded the release of those who were already arrested. Some started chanting slogans from the Revolution of 2011, demanding a regime change. Many citizens have lost faith in the elected government amidst a never-ending economic crisis.
The Prime Minister who was appointed just six months back announced a reshuffle in his cabinet which is waiting for approval by the cabinet. He also promised to introduce an initiative that will make it possible for the youth to make their voices heard. Mechichi is yet to find a solution for the badly hit tourism industry and an economy that has shrunk by around 9% in 2020.