Tunisia PM holds emergency meeting over protests

Published January 23rd, 2016 - 01:00 GMT

Tunisian Prime MInister Habib Essid held an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday, after issuing a nighttime curfew following the worst social unrest since the 2011 revolution, AFP reported. 

Essid met with defense and interior ministers prior to the cabinet session, as relative calm seemed to be restored to towns witnessing clashes between protesters and police.

"Security-wise, it has started to stabilize," interior ministry spokesman Walid Louguini told AFP.

Five years after the revolution that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has been slow to recover from a sluggish economy, high unemployment and poerty rates.

In a televised address on Friday, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi expressed understanding for protesters' frustrations, but warned against "ill-intentioned hands" that might exploit grievances for the purpose of creating chaos. 

Protests have spread around the country, including Tunis, where shops were torched and looted in one suburb, leading to the nighttime curfew that was imposed on Friday. 

Tunisian authorities have arrested 261 people involved in clashes, and 84 for violating the curfew, the interior ministry said. 

Although Tunisia is considered the only successful political transition following the Arab Spring uprisings, authorities have so far failed to resolve problems of limited economic opportunities, and some analysts see Tunisia slipping back into authoritarianism. 

Tunisia is also facing militant attacks which have targeted its tourism industry. 

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