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Tunisia declares national curfew amid unemployment protest violence

This North African country has been the only Arab Spring nation to avoid a chaotic aftermath and take the road to democracy. On the outskirts of the protests was a police officer killed.

After news of the curfew emerged, France announced a 1 billion euro aid package to its former protectorate – one that France said would help Tunisia tackle its economic and social challenges.

Demonstrators who had spent the night in a meeting hall opposite the building said they were determined to continue their protest.

The interior ministry said the 8pm to 5am curfew was necessary to prevent damage to property and to ensure public safety.

There have been 261 arrests over the unrest and 84 for curfew violations on Friday, the interior ministry said.

Unemployment has worsened since the 2011 revolution, when President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted.

“It’s been seven years of no work for me”, one protester, Samir, 30, told Reuters. “The old regime has robbed our dreams”. That sparked a wave of uprisings, called the Islamic Awakening, in other Arab countries against authoritarian rulers.

Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” led to a transition to democracy and eventually Essebsi’s election in 2014.

“There has been huge political progress but we acknowledge that there are lots of economic difficulties”. Around 33% of the country’s unemployed are university graduates. Mohamed Bouazizi was a graduate who had to sell fruit and vegetables to survive. More than 3,000 Tunisians are believed to be fighting in the Middle East.

“I’d love to work, that’s all I think about”.

Sidi Bouzaid and Kasserine were the first cities to rise up against Ben Ali in the 2011 revolt.

Mr Essebsi said on Wednesday that more than 6,000 jobs would be given to people from the town of Kasserine.

Tunisia also faces militant violence that has devastated its vital tourism industry.

And in Kasserine, protesters said the government needed to do far more to win their trust.

The unrest comes at a delicate moment for the government.

Attacks claimed by IS previous year at the national museum and a beach resort killed a total of 60 people, all but one of them foreign tourists.

Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid shares a smile with ministers prior to preside over an extraordinary Cabinet meeting in Carthage, outside Tunis, Saturday Jan. 23, 2016. But there is little patience in the streets for just promises.

Hundreds of unemployed protesters had gathered in front of the headquarters of the Kasserine governorate, where some threatened to commit suicide, prompting tear gas salvos by security forces to scatter them, witnesses said.

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