Tense protests have erupted across Tunisia since a new budget took effect on Jan. 1 that raised taxes on gasoline, phone cards, internet usage, hotel rooms and even fruits and vegetables. The demonstrations have claimed at least one life, and have revived worries about the fragile political situation in Tunisia, the only country to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings with the semblance of a stable democracy.
Those uprisings began in Tunisia in December 2010, when Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old high school dropout who worked as a fruit and vegetable vendor, set himself on fire in the town of Sidi Bouzid after being shaken down and humiliated by local officials. Thursday was the seventh anniversary of his death.
“People have to understand that the situation is extraordinary and their country is having difficulties, but we believe that 2018 will be the last difficult year for the Tunisians,” Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on Tuesday, emphasizing his belief that the tax increases, while difficult, would help stabilize the economy.