Protesters in several provinces of Tunisia staged general strikes on Tuesday to demand employment and better development in several underprivileged areas of the country.

Hundreds of unemployed young people demonstrated in Tunisia’s southern Tataouine province Tuesday during a strike to show their dissatisfaction with the “unsuccessful and ineffective promises” of the government. Tataouine, some 500 km south of Tunis on the edge of the desert, has been the scene of several protests over the past fortnight. On Tuesday, cafes, shops and public buildings were closed, although bakeries, pharmacies and hospitals remained open, according to regional sources. Earlier this week, Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed announced a series of measures in favor of Tataouine, aiming at quelling discontent in the region.

Measures included an immediate employment of 500 Tataouine residents by state companies and a quota system by which oil firms would be obliged to hire most of their employees from the local population. The general strike at Tataouine coincided on the same day with peaceful protests in other inner provinces including Kairouan and Kef. A parade took place in the city center of Kairouan, capital of the Kairouan Governorate in the middle of the country. Citizens, trade unionists and representatives of civil society chanted slogans including “Anger” and “Priority for development,” to send a message to the authorities and express their dissatisfaction with the lack of funds and development projects in their province.

The demonstrators said Kairouan remains one of the the provinces with the highest rate of unemployment, poverty and suicide, despite the promises made by the successive governments since January 2011. Public gatherings also took place in Kef, a province in northwestern Tunisia, to call for social demands. The protests here were supported by the regional directorate of the Tunisian General Labor Union. The labor union is planning a general strike in Kef on April 20, in order to condemn the “poor” social and economic situation in the region, which has been worsened by the closure of a cabling factory, a source of revenue for at least 300 people. Some analysts believe that Tunisia will face domestic challenges especially concerning regional development and security, even though there is a sign of economic recovery confirmed by the Tunisian authorities and an estimated growth of 2.5 percent this year forecasted by international financial institutions.Unemployment in Tunisia stood at some 15 percent in the last quarter of 2016, according to the country’s official statistical agency.

Source: Xinhua/