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Labour protests in Tunisia expected to escalate today


Labour protests in Tunisia expected to escalate today

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Photo: Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency

The Al-Kamour activists of Tataouine will today escalate their nonviolent protest to advocate the full implementation of their June 2017 peace deal with the Tunisian government. This escalation will likely include the blocking of oil transport vehicles and letters of protest to prominent Tunisian officials.

Frustrated by the state’s unwillingness to reconcile systemic poverty in the south with heavy investment along the northern coast, the 2017 Al-Kamour protest sought to incentivise job creation within Tataouine’s public and private sectors. The protest has garnered international acclaim for its adherence to nonviolence and for the speed with which it forced the government into negotiations and an eventual peace deal. However, protesters’ demands regarding job creation and investment in Tataouine have not been met, which has led to this second mobilisation.

Tunisian officials must now address both the abject poverty of the southern population and the failure to stimulate cross-sector growth. The protesters’ demand for a $28.2 million annual investment in Tataouine has posed a significant hurdle for the government. As diplomatic ties with Turkey have strengthened, Tunisian development has shifted toward the northern coast and absorbed funds promised in 2017.

Protesters are unlikely to resume negotiations with the initial deal currently unfulfilled, and the government is unlikely to shift its allocation of resources to address the north-south socioeconomic divide. Furthermore, having lost the trust of protesters, the government will not be able to resume negotiations as expeditiously as it did in 2017. Expect the protest to escalate in the coming weeks as Tunisia attempts to juggle its domestic instability and coastal growth initiatives.

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