Bouts of civil unrest in Tunisia are not new. Since 2011 the country has seen numerous people grow increasingly frustrated over an ever-growing list of things that appear wrong to them. Tunisia suffers from an ailing economy and lacks deeper reforms and development.
Mass Protests begin in Tunisia
Such things have made numerous Tunisians go to the streets and express their discontent with the government. Protestors denounce what they call broken promises from the government. Nearly half of the young Tunisians in the country lack jobs. As this is the case, most of the protestors on the streets have been disillusioned youths with disparate grievances.
Since 2011, each successive government has lacked to improve the country`s state of affairs or prospects for better livelihoods. Last year was no different from any of the other previous years. Coupled with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis in Tunisia only worsened, leaving many uncertain over how to make ends meet.
Despite the pandemic, Tunisians did not shy away from expressing their heightened frustrations. Days of protests broke out in several parts of the country. This prompted the government to employ restrictive health measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. The virus rules prohibited any gatherings in public areas, and an 8 p.m. -5 a.m. curfew was instilled. The government also forbade travel between regions and ordered all people older than 65 to stay at home as part of stricter virus measures. Restaurants and bars were to remain closed except for takeout food, and school and university classes would be transferred online.
Nationwide strikes and protests increased across Tunisia due to unemployment associated with coronavirus. Popular protest sites, including city centers, public squares, and government buildings, started filling up once more despite the restrictions employed to stop infections. Due to this, the Tunisian government threatened to take drastic measures against violators of the COVID-19 restrictions.
COVID-19 Lockdown for one Week
A scientific committee that advised the government on the pandemic recommended a strict lockdown on weekends to control spread. But the government settled on extending its curfew and banned demonstrations to stop the rise in infections and calm tensions after weeks of protests and rioting over economic troubles.
But still, hundreds of protestors gathered to demand the release of those arrested for participating in protests. Clashes broke out between the protestors and police where some 1,000 people were also detained, and dozens ordered jailed for vandalism and theft. Due to the continued gatherings in Tunisia, the rate of infections continued to increase drastically. This week the Tunisian government reported 103 virus-related deaths. This figure was the highest ever in 11 million people and one of the highest in Africa. Local media in Tunisia reported that hospitals were already too full to accept more virus patients.
Following these discoveries, the Tunisian government has decided to impose a COVID-19 lockdown for one week. Speaking at a news conference, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said the measure was being taken in case the health system collapses, which is a real danger. Mechichi had previously rejected another lockdown proposed by his advisors saying the country could not afford it. But the situation has now forced a change in tactics.