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Tunisia government promises new social aid to placate protests

The new benefits, of which 120,000 families will benefit, cost 23 million euros

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Tunisia government promises new social aid to placate protests

After a long day of meetings with parties and social actors, Tunisian government announced Saturday night an increase in aid to neediest families in order to appease social tensions that have shaken country Maghreb during Last week, and y have settled with a deadly victim and more than 800 people arrested. The current political crisis coincided with seventh anniversary of fall of regime of Ben Ali, which thousands of people have celebrated in Central Avenue Bourguiba of capital of country, stage at same time of festive events and protest marches.

According to a press conference, Minister of Social Affairs, Mohamed Trabelsi, monthly aid to poorest families will go from 150 dinars (50 euros) to a maximum of 210 dinars (70 euros), depending on size of family unit. It is estimated that total cost of measure will be close to 70 million of dinars (23.5 million euros), and that 120,000 families will benefit from it. In addition, Government pledged to support some 500,000 families with low or unstable incomes so that y can receive a mortgage loan and access a decent home.

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With se measures, government hopes to put an end to wave of protests that began last Monday, and that have combined peaceful daytime demonstrations with night riots in a score of cities in country. However, even before knowing social aid package, violent protests had already subsided, perhaps as a result of extensive campaign of arrests launched by authorities.

At moment, platform Fesh Nastanneu? ("What are we waiting for?"), a promoter of mobilizations, has not yet offered an official reaction to government's proposal. One of its spokespersons informed country that leaders of movement were scheduled to meet on Sunday afternoon to assess situation and decide wher to continue protests. The main objective of platform is withdrawal of Budgets Act of 2018, when it considers that it aggravates price increase in commodity prices due to a rise in fiscal pressure.

A festive and demanding day

As every 14th of January, Bourguiba Avenue has become hub of activities related to commemoration of fall of dictator Ben Ali's regime. From first hour of morning, all kinds of organizations connected with revolution have been marching through ir streets: unions, political parties, associations of victims, etc. There was even a concentration of fans of one of most popular football teams in capital, which ignited flares, causing arrival of a squadron of riot agents. However, day passed with total normality and without any conato of clashes or violence.

The Ennahda platform, Islamist party that forms a government of "grand coalition" with Nidá Tunis, was busiest. From its stage, music was alternated with political speeches, always with a positive tone to highlight achievements achieved by revolution. For its part, progressive Popular front, always in antipodes of Ennahda, brought toger hundreds of people in a demonstration of a demanding nature. The participants endorsed slogan popularized by Fesh Nastanneu? This last week: "The people want fall of Budget".

The radical Islamist party Hizbu Tahrir, which defends creation of a universal caliphate, also wanted to be present in this day, although his hut was outside Bourguiba Avenue, separated from or parties. A whole metaphor of his condition as an outsider of Tunisian political system. Interestingly, of main political parties of country, only one that shone by his absence is that which accumulates a greater institutional power, Nidá Tunis, force to which belong President Beji Caïd Essebsi and Prime Minister Yusuf chahed.

On a street parallel to Bourguiba Avenue, and in front of headquarters of powerful UGTT Syndicate, a score of young college graduates are camped outdoors to ask state to give m work. They have been supporting inclement wear of Tunisian winter for two months. "Today should be a holiday, but it's not. We're not happy. The revolution has brought us freedom of expression, but or very important demands such as right to work, health... have not yet been fulfilled, "laments Essam Barkawy, originally from Kasserine, province where a greater number of people lost ir lives During revolt of 2011.

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