Tunisian govt hopes that days of meals protests are subsiding


Tunisia's government agreed on Saturday more aid for low-income families to ease the pain of IMF-backed austerity measures that have sparked violent protests around the North African country.

The government will increase aid for poor families and needy people such as pensioners by 170 million dinars ($70.3 million), Mohamed Trabelsi, minister of social affairs, told reporters.

The UN human rights office expressed concern Friday over the large number of people arrested; it said about 200 of them are between 15 and 20 years old. "It will help the poor and middle class".

The opposition bloc "people's front" rejected the accusations and called for a large-scale protest on Sunday, January 14, on the seventh anniversary of "the Second Jasmine revolution" and the overthrow of President Ben Ali.

Nearly 800 people have been arrested for vandalism and violence such as throwing petrol bombs at police stations, the interior ministry said on Friday.

Protests, some violent, flared across Tunisia on Monday, when one protester was killed, before ebbing on Thursday. The event triggered demonstrations across the country, which eventually spread to others in the Arab world.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed also issued a statement earlier saying his government was meeting to consider a social welfare package to mitigate the impact of austerity measures. There was no immediate toll for the number of protesters injured in the unrest.

Prices have increased for fuel and some consumer goods, while taxes on cars, phone calls, the internet, hotel accommodation and other items have also risen. The organization said he died after a police auto ran him over twice but Tunisia's Ministry of Interior said that he had suffocated to death from tear gas because he had a chronic respiratory condition.

He urged the government to not detain protesters arbitrarily. "What happened had nothing to do with democracy and protests against price hikes". Several police stations have been set on fire. On Friday, scores of students and activists joined a rally in the capital, Tunis, the news agency said, at which they demanded the release of protesters who have been taken into custody.

Tunisia's has been in economic crisis since 2011, when the Arab Spring uprising unseated the government.

Uprisings in 2011 and two major militant attacks in 2015 damaged foreign investment and tourism, which accounts for eight percent of Tunisia's economic activity.