The so-called Arab Spring, which began with the string of revolutionary events in Tunisia has now officially ended. It ended last month with Tunisia getting swept by a wave of new demonstrations, with thousands of people taking to the streets both in the capital, and other cities of the country.
Local media sources, while covering those events, referred to them as the “stolen revolution”.
Officially, the Tunisian revolution started in January of 2011, when President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after staying in power for 23 consecutive years was forced to flee the country.
Seven years later and Tunisians are shouting those very same demands that rallied them when the revolution began: “Employment, freedom, dignity.” It’s no accident that employment occupies the principal place in those chants as the economic situation has been deteriorating for 7 years straight, with Tunisia’s national debt increasing from 39.2% GDP in 2010 up to 60.6% in 2016. In that period Tunisian dinar lost 40% of its value against the US dollar.
Unemployment, as before, remains the scourge of the Tunisian economy, with well over 35% of youngsters being unable to find a job, while prices on basic consumer goods keep skyrocketing. Tunisians are getting increasingly frustrated with the fact that can not make their ends meet, no matter how hard they try, which forced protesters to take to the streets after the announcement of a new budget draft that allowed yet another increase in prices.
Those who participated in the rallies opposed “poverty and hunger” and protested against “thieves who stole the country.”
At the head of the people’s movement was a group called “What Are We Waiting For” According to the media reports, a total of 800 people was arrested during the demonstration, with 200 of them being aged between 15 and 25.
Two years ago Tunisia signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that allowed it to obtain a loan of 2.8 billion dollars for 4 years, however that the government was supposed to introduce a series of severe economic and social reforms. Demonstrations were the answer to these planned reforms.
It’s no wonder that local authorities were in a rush to turn their back on the austerity regime they were introducing,