Tunisian city under curfew after unemployment rally

Police fire tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters in Kasserine, two days after unemployed man committed suicide.

Kasserine protests
A curfew from 6pm to 5am local time has been imposed in Kasserine city, local media reported [Tunisian News Network]

Tunisian police have fired tear gas at protesters demanding jobs in the western Kasserine province, two days after an unemployed man committed suicide, locals have said.

Clashes between protesters demanding jobs and Tunisian police escalated in the city of Kasserine, the capital of the province, on Tuesday, Tunisia’s state news agency (TAP) reported.

At least 23 people were injured in the clashes, including three security forces, according to TAP. The injuries mostly resulted from the use of tear gas.

A curfew from 6pm to 5am local time has been imposed in the city, TAP said.

Ridha Yahyaoui, a young job-seeker, committed suicide in Kasserine on Sunday after he found out his name had been taken from a government pool of potential public employees.

Yahyaoui climbed a utility pole where he threatened to self-immolate. Yahyaoui then came in contact with the cables the pole was carrying and was electrocuted.


The government ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Yahyaoui’s death.

The city of Kasserine lies near the Algerian border, in the shadow of Jebel ech Chambi, Tunisia’s highest peak.

IN PICTURES: Tunisian revolution

According to the World Bank, Tunisia’s unemployment rate is at 15.3 percent, only a little under the country’s unemployment rate post-2011 revolution of 16.7 percent, but still well above the pre-revolution level of 13 percent. 

TAP also reported on Tuesday that a delegation of members of parliament would visit Kasserine to monitor the latest developments in the region that has experienced social tension for some days.

The Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives (HPR), Mohamed Ennaceur, said at a plenary session that he was willing to lead the delegation that will be composed of members of parliament representing the region of Kasserine.

Ennaceur also said that a special plenary session on the social situation, particularly youth employment, would be held soon.

“During the plenary session, MPs warned against the spread of poverty and the rise in unemployment, saying these are signs of a new revolution,” TAP reported.

Tunisia five years on

In January 2011, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old street vendor, marched to the front of a government building and set himself on fire after police allegedly slapped him because he refused to hand over his unauthorised cart to the authorities.

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News of this act of desperation spread across Sidi Bouzid, leading to anger and protest.

Within days, protests erupted across the country with Tunisians chanting slogans and demanding a solution to the vast unemployment and dire economic state of the country.

Tunisian ex-president President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali  officially resigned after 28 days of protests on January 14, 2011, putting an end to his 23-year-long rule.

Unemployment, inflated food prices, corruption, lack of political freedom and poor living conditions were the underlying reasons for the demonstrations.

Source: Al Jazeera