On third anniversary of Tunisia's Arab Spring, protestors gather with similar message

Published December 17th, 2013 - 10:22 GMT
Tunisians' "Day of Rage" protest echoed similar calls for political and economic reforms from Tunisia's Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011 (File Archive/AFP)
Tunisians' "Day of Rage" protest echoed similar calls for political and economic reforms from Tunisia's Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011 (File Archive/AFP)

In honor of the third anniversary of the start of the Arab Spring, Tunisians gathered for a "day of rage" at the birthplace of the region's revolutions, according to Agence France-Presse.

Tunisians rallied in protest of the country's remaining high unemployment rate that stands at nearly 15 percent at the site in Sidi Bouzid where 26-year-old Mohammed Bouazizi burned himself to death in 2011 in an act that became the "icon event" of the region's Arab Spring. 

Like Bouazizi's act that aimed to "attract attention to the economic hardship and repression" in the country, Tunisians rallied Tuesday with a similar message. The peaceful protest was organized by the country's powerful UGTT labor trade. 

"Tuesday will be a day of rage and protests against the policies of the government which did not keep to its word and betrayed the promises of the revolution," said activist Youssef Jlili.

"Three years have gone by and nothing changed. The social and economic situation is still difficult and the region has plunged into misery," activist Mondher Chaibi said ahead of the demonstration.

The demonstrators also told AFP that the current Islamist-led Ennahda party leadership was "not welcome" at Tuesday's protest because "they have done nothing but impoverish our region [and] they are not credible," said UGTT official Lazhar Ghmoudi. 

Sidi Bouzid, where Tuesday's protest was held, is home to more than 500,000 people and has the nation's highest unemployment rate at 24.4 percent.

The protestors have also said that their demonstration is a tribute to the two opposition politicians who were murdered earlier this year by Islamists. The deaths of the politicians have since launched the country into a political deadlock with many Tunisians calling for the oust of the current Islamist-led Ennahda government. 

In October, Ennahda agreed with opposition leaders to resign and move towards an interim government that will pave the way for a newly-elected independent legislature, but it was only Saturday this week that an interim Prime Minister was approved by the majority of the parliament. 

After months of debate, Industry Minister Mehdi Jomaa was chosen to serve as the interim leader and organize independent elections for 2014.

Political and economic turmoil continued to envelope the country over the past six months, but the final decision to appoint Jomaa as the interim premier will hopefully be the first step to a new era in Tunisian politics. 


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