Man sets himself on fire in Tunisian capital

Published March 12th, 2013 - 10:28 GMT
Tunisians have taken to the streets in anti-government protests in recent days (AFP Photo)
Tunisians have taken to the streets in anti-government protests in recent days (AFP Photo)

A man set himself on fire Tuesday at the Tunisian capital’s center, only hours before the country's lawmakers were to vote on a new government tasked with pulling Tunisia out of a deep political crisis. 

“This is a young man who sells cigarettes because of unemployment,” shouted the man before immolating himself on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, a witness told AFP.

"Allahu Akbar! (God is greatest!)" said the severely burned man who was reportedly still conscious when emergency services rushed him to the hospital, reported AFP.

Police officers and firefighters refused to reveal information about the man, who is believed to be in his 20s.

The number of people committing suicide or attempting to take their own lives has multiplied in Tunisia since a young street vendor set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, in a drastic act of protest against police harassment.

The news was a reminder of the Tunisian uprising that toppled president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. The revolt was ignited by street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, who sparked the Arab Spring uprisings when he set himself on fire to protest against poor economic conditions.

Since then the number of people committing suicide or attempting to take their own lives has multiplied in Tunisia.

Economic and social difficulties were the key factors that brought down Ben Ali's regime and two years since his ouster unemployment and poverty continue to plague the north African country.

Tunisia has also been struggling to emerge from a political crisis exacerbated by the daylight murder on February 6 murder of Chokri Belaid, a leftist opposition leader.

Later Tuesday, premier-designate Ali Larayedh was to seek a vote of confidence on his new cabinet line-up from lawmakers in the National Constituent Assembly.


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