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Tunisian Authorities Arrest Dozens for Protesting Illegal Stalls, Fuel Price Hike | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Tunisians demonstrating in support of the protesters of El Kamour oilfield, near the town of Tatouine, clash with riot police officers on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis. (Reuters)

Tunisia – Two police officers were injured and 47 people were arrested during clashes between hundreds of street vendors and security forces in the center of the capital, Tunisian Interior Ministry said Monday.

These incidents occurred during a gathering of about 300 people who came to demonstrate in front of the headquarters of the Tunisian General Labor Union against the local authorities’ crackdown against illegal stalls.

According to the ministry, the security forces intervened to evacuate the premises. The situation eventually turned violent when the protesters threw stones at the police, who retaliated by firing tear gas.

The governorate of Tunis was alerted on June 19 of the uncontrolled exploitation of public places, prompting it to set an ultimatum of five days for illegal street vendors to vacate the area.

The protests were also instigated by the Tunisia’s government’s decision on Sunday to cut fuel subsidies, raising petrol prices by 6.7 percent in an effort to trim its budget deficit.

Authorities lifted the price of unleaded petrol from 1.650 dinars per liter to 1.750. The last increase in fuel prices was in 2014.

The Energy Ministry said in a statement that it has decided to increase the prices of unleaded fuel and diesel by 100 milims and 90 milims respectively, while keeping the prices of other petroleum products unchanged.

The price review comes in the wake of protests over unemployment and development that have erupted near oil production sites over the past three months. The rallies led to a weeks-long halt in production in Tataouine and Kebili in the south.