More than a decade after sparking the region-wide Arab Spring movement, Tunisia is once again facing mass protests and unrest due to soaring unemployment and widespread poverty. On Tuesday, hundreds of residents of the southern city of Tataouine, one of the areas hardest hit by the latest economic downturn, stormed the local government building only to be repelled by police, who fired tear gas into the crowds and arrested several demonstrators. Protesters are demanding that government finally implement a three-year-old reform plan meant to create jobs in the oil and infrastructure sectors. Unemployment in some regions in the North African state is running as high as 30%. The cradle of the Arab Spring, Tunisia eventually became the only country to emerge from the 2011 mass revolts with a somewhat functioning democracy, after the ouster of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Yet instability and political struggles have since plagued the country and the past year’s global pandemic has only exacerbated the growing economic crisis.
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