Tunisia president vows to end unemployment

Tunisia president vows to end unemployment

Tunisia’s president says he understands frustration that has led to protests over unemployment, but instability could be exploited by extremists.

A curfew began on Friday evening after “attacks against public and private property”, the interior ministry said.

Protests over youth unemployment have spread from the northern region of Kasserine to towns and cities.

In a televised speech, President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country would “get out of this ordeal”.

There is no dignity without work. You can’t tell someone who has nothing to eat to stay patient,” said President Essebsi said.

He said there was a risk that the Islamic State group in neighbouring Libya “finds that the moment is opportune to infiltrate into Tunisia”.

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

The government also promised an investigation into allegations of corruption.

Unemployment has worsened since the 2011 revolution, when President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted. More than a third of young people in Tunisia are without work.

Tunisia’s uprising was the first of the Arab Spring, and often hailed as the most successful.

But correspondents say the authorities have failed to resolve the problems of social exclusion and poverty, and face a growing jihadist threat.

The curfew, which runs from 20:00 to 05:00 local time, was put in place because of the “danger to the security of the state and it citizens”, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Only night-shift workers and people needing urgent medical care are exempt.

The authorities called for calm after protests descended into vandalism, looting and violence in several areas.

The demonstrations started on Sunday in the central-western town of Kasserine, after a man was electrocuted while protesting over his rejection for a government job.

In the nearby town of Feriana, a policeman died after his car was overturned on Thursday.

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