More protests expected in Tunisia after mass arrests

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Activists in Tunisia have called for a major demonstration against the government's decision to increase taxes and the prices of basic goods, after hundreds of people were arrested in previous days of protests.

European governments warned their citizens about potential rioting Friday and this weekend, when Tunisia marks seven years since the ouster of longtime strongman President Zine Ben Abidine Ben Ali.

Almost a week of sometimes violent protests across the country followed the announcement of austerity measures in this year's budget, which took effect on January 1.

According to him, 21 security officers were injured and a dozen police vehicles damaged during the unrest.On Wednesday, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed visited one of the affected areas, where he criticized the main opposition party backing the protests - the Popular Front - and said criminal networks were exploiting the unrest. Police carried out raids to "arrest troublemakers and rioters involved in looting and stealing", he said. The government has vowed not to back down on the austerity measures, taken to satisfy foreign lenders.

More protests expected in Tunisia after mass arrests
More protests expected in Tunisia after mass arrests

The 2018 budget also raises customs taxes on some imports, and the Tunis government is trying to cut the public sector wage bill through voluntary redundancies.

Tunisia's army has deployed 2,100 troops in different parts of the country, with the stated aim of protecting "sovereign institutions and vital facilities", defence ministry spokesman Belhassen al-Waslati said on Thursday.

The violence has prompted fears of instability in Tunisia, a country that is widely regarded as the only democratic success story from the Arab Spring uprisings. The International Monetary Funds says Tunisia is committed to "decisive action" to reform its economy before the IMF reviews the payment of its next loan tranche.

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