Tunisia

  1. Renewed protests in Tunisia after death of protester

    BBC World Service

    A young protester during a march held in the streets of the capital Tunis
    Image caption: Tunisian youths have been protesting against economic woes

    There have been renewed protests in a Tunisian town, Sbeitla, triggered by reports that a young man injured during clashes last week had died in hospital.

    Soldiers were deployed to government buildings in the town after protesters tried to storm the town's police station.

    The family of the man, Haykel Rachdi, said he was hit by a teargas canister.

    He had joined nationwide protests to mark the 10th anniversary of the Tunisian revolution, which ushered in democracy and triggered the Arab Spring uprisings across the region.

  2. Frank-talking female airline boss shocks Tunisia

    Rana Jawad

    BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

    Olfa Hamdi
    Image caption: Olfa Hamdi took over at TunisAir earlier this month

    The newly appointed head of Tunisia’s state airline has been making waves because of her frank comments about the situation at TunisAir and her criticism of a union-organised sit-in.

    Olfa Hamdi, a 35-year old businesswoman and engineer, said those participating were not TunisAir employees, were preventing others from working and were not helping the situation at the cash-strapped state carrier.

    “When I took over TunisAir, I found planes that were grounded over $200 [£146], I found scared people, and people who couldn't take decisions, I found a painful situation… and you know, I’ve paid from my own pocket for catering to work and flights to take off," she said.

    “I found men crying! I have been working for 10 days, 10 days… and then I’m met by the unions, who bring me people who are not the sons of TunisAir, for a sit-in in our operational centre, which carries a security risk.”

    The secretary-general of the union hit back in a local radio broadcast, saying those at the sit-in were contracted to TunisAir and had worked more than six years there but had had no work since the coronavirus pandemic.

    Ms Hamdi said she sympathised, but her comments underlie the fact that TunisAir is facing bankruptcy and its state of affairs has worsened since the global pandemic.

    Her tirade was videoed and has caused a stir online, with many supporting her courage for speaking out, but others questioning the manner in which she did it.

    At one point she told a man, who could be heard but not seen in the video, to “shut up”, when he tried to comment.

    The mixed public reaction has also spurred debate about sexism, with some wondering if a man would have been met with the same criticism.

  3. Tunisian prime minister warns protesters

    Rana Jawad

    BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

    Protestors in Tunis
    Image caption: Protesters had defied Covid-19 restrictions to demonstrate in the capital Tunis

    Tunisia's Prime Minister Hichem Mechechi has warned against chaos and destruction of property in his first address to the nation following days of protests and riots which began on Friday.

    Mr Mechichi acknowledged the economic and social grievances of the population at large but condemned the acts of violence, and the vandalism and looting that occurred at some of the protests.

    While he warned that chaos would not be tolerated, he also tried to appeal to the youth:

    Quote Message: In the next few days we will work on putting in place an initiative that will enable you to get your voices, suggestions and projections heard, and which will allow us to play our role… your voices are heard, your anger is legitimate, and my role and the government’s role is to work on realising your demands… so that dreams in Tunisia become a possibility, and where hope is a foundation.
    Quote Message: The crisis is real, the anger and protest is legitimate, but we reject chaos and we will confront that with the power of the law and the unity of the state."

    More than 600 people, mostly between the ages of 14 and 15, were arrested over the weekend following running battles and clashes with the police, who called them rioters.

    The rights body Amnesty International has criticised the authorities for excessive use of force.

    Police have been using tear gas and chasing youngsters with batons in areas where they took to the streets.

    There appeared to be fewer night protests since Monday.

    But dozens of activists and students have been holding demonstrations in central Tunis and elsewhere during the day, demanding the release of those arrested and calling for jobs and dignity.

    They also revived chants of the 2011 revolution calling for the fall of the regime.

    Tunisia has been gripped by an economic downturn in recent years and Tunisians have largely lost faith in their elected politicians.

    The current prime minister and his government were appointed six months ago, but at the weekend he announced a sweeping reshuffle to his cabinet, which still needs to be approved by parliament.

  4. Video content

    Video caption: Tunisia protests: More than 600 hundred arrested

    Crowds of mainly young demonstrators gathered in the centre of the capital, Tunis, throwing stones and petrol bombs at police.

  5. Young Tunisians protest for third night amid hardship

    Demonstrators block a street during clashes with security forces in the Ettadhamen city suburb of Tunis, Tunisia, 17 January 2021.
    Image caption: The wave of night protests started on Friday

    There have been more clashes between protesters and police in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, and several other cities across the country.

    Sunday was the third night of tension which officials have described as riots. Pictures and videos on social media show roadblocks with burning tyres and the police chasing young people down alleyways.

    The authorities say they've arrested more than 200 people, mostly youngsters who'd vandalised property and tried to steal from shops and banks.

    The protesters weren't making any clear demands. But there's widespread dissatisfaction in Tunisia, which is enduring severe economic problems. Prices have rocketed, and a third of young people are unemployed.

    The country's revolution 10 years ago ushered in democracy, but hopes that this would bring more jobs and opportunities have been disappointed.

  6. Algeria to share vaccine with 'sister' nation Tunisia

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    Algeria says it will share some of the doses of coronavirus vaccine it has ordered with neighbouring Tunisia by the end of the month.

    It is not clear how many doses Algeria has ordered, nor how many each country needs to battle the virus effectively.

    But we do know where they will be coming from: Algeria has ordered Russia's Sputnik V vaccine - with 500,000 doses due in the first delivery - as well as another vaccine from China.

    It's not known which of the Chinese-developed coronavirus vaccines they are to use. In recent days there has been concern from experts that one of them - CoronaVac - is only 50.4% effective.

    Tunisia's Foreign Minister Othmane Jerandi said his nation and Algeria were "sister" countries and that Algeria's gesture to share the doses was a "sign of brotherhood" between them.

    Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune recently returned to Germany for a final phase of treatment after he caught coronavirus three months ago.

    Tunisia, with a population of 12 million, has registered more than 5,000 deaths from coronavirus.

    Its government imposed a four-day lockdown on 14 January to control the spread of the virus.

    Algeria meanwhile has had 2,822 deaths and around 30,000 active cases, according to data published by Johns Hopkins university.

  7. Tunisia orders four-day nationwide lockdown

    Rana Jawad

    BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

    A woman being tested for Covid-19 in Tunis, Tunisia - January 2021
    Image caption: There has been a recent screening campaign in Tunis

    Tunisia will start a four-day nationwide lockdown on Thursday to stem the spread of Covid-19 infections.

    The North African state has been struggling to reduce the number of infections since September. It has so far confirmed more than 160,000 cases since the pandemic started with more than 5,000 deaths.

    The government has been avoiding a nationwide lockdown for months, opting instead for a nightly curfew that has been in place since October.

    But the infection rate has not decreased with at least 300 new cases being confirmed daily.

    Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi told a news conference that new measures would include extending the night curfew, which would now start at 17:00 GMT and remain in place until 05:00 GMT.

    Schools will also be closed from Wednesday until 24 January.

    The lockdown will start on a day that marks a decade since the toppling of former autocratic ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali following mass protests.

    The country’s economy has been struggling over the years and the coronavirus pandemic has contributed further to its downturn.

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  9. Tunisia to extend Covid-19 curfew

    Rana Jawad

    BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

    A woman and children, clad in masks due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

    Tunisia will extend its nightly curfew until mid-January, health authorities have said.

    The decision was announced on Tuesday night following the recommendations of the country's Covid-19 scientific committee.

    More than 120,000 positive cases have been recorded since March but the majority of infections are from recent months.

    The health ministry said the new strain of Covid-19 has not been recorded in Tunisia but added that the country was expected to roll out vaccines in April.

    Official figures show that the death rate is averaging more than 40 a day and 77% of ICU beds across the country are now occupied.

    But there is growing public frustration over the continued restrictive measures to curb the spread of the virus.

    Read: Tunisia deploys police robot on lockdown patrol

  10. Video content

    Video caption: 'Cage man' Wadih Jalasi remembers Tunisia's revolution

    Wadih Jalasi became known as "cage man" during the Arab Spring, after a photo of him went viral.

  11. Tunisia rules out normalising relations with Israel

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    Tunisia's Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi says his country is not interested in normalising relations with Israel.

    Morocco last week became the fourth member of the Arab League to announce diplomatic ties with Israel in the past few months.

    While on an official visit to France, Mr Mechichi, in response to a question by journalists on whether Tunisia intended to follow in Morocco's footsteps, said that "every country is free to make the choice it makes. It is not the choice Tunisia has made."

    Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi speaks to the press after a meeting with his French counterpart at the Hotel Matignon in Paris on December 14, 2020
    Image caption: Hichem Mechichi has been Tunisia's prime minister since September

    Mr Mechichi also denied that the Trump administration had put pressure on Tunisia.

    "I have not heard anything about the Trump administration pressuring us to follow in the footsteps of Morocco and the Emirates," he added.

    US President Donald Trump announced last week that Morocco would normalise relations with Israel.

    In exchange, his administration recognised Morocco's sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

  12. Tunisian protesters start fire over gas shortage

    BBC World Service

    Angry residents in southwest Tunisia have set fire to a provincial government building during a protest about a shortage of gas for their homes.

    The demonstrators in the town of Tozeur had also been demanding that the authorities take steps to ease high unemployment in the area.

    Tunisia made a transition to democracy following its Arab Spring revolution nearly 10 years ago.

    But since then, its economy has stagnated and living standards have fallen.

  13. Woman dies after falling into Tunisia manhole

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    Map

    The authorities in the Tunisian city of Sousse are investigating the death of a woman who fell into an open manhole following heavy rains.

    Myriam Dhahbi was walking home from work when the incident happened.

    The 20-year-old died before arriving at hospital, the civil protection brigade which conducted the rescue said.

    The fatal accident comes six months after a 14-year-old girl fell to her death in a manhole in the area of Bhar Lazreg in the north-east coastal city of Marsa.

    The child’s body was recovered two kilometres (one mile) away from the site of the accident.

  14. Tunisian football fans return from protest at sea

    BBC World Service

    Tunisian football fans on fishing boats
    Image caption: The Tunisian football fans boarded fishing boats on 12 November

    Five boatloads of Tunisian football fans who had threatened to leave the country in protest at the treatment of their team have returned home.

    Around 300 supporters from the town of Chebba were angry that the footballing authorities had banned their club, Croissant Sportif Chebbien, over a bureaucratic matter.

    They were so disgusted that they said they would migrate to Europe, and headed off in a flotilla.

    But they came back after a day at sea, saying they had received assurances from the authorities that the dispute involving the club would be settled soon.

    Map of Tunisia