Tunisia Arrests 242 over Riots

At least 242 youths were arrested on Saturday after riots broke out in several regions of Tunisia.

Tunisian Public Safety Department spokesperson, Walid Hakima, said several police officers were wounded and many security vehicles were damaged during the riots.

According to Hakima, the youths, including “bandits’’, were mostly minors involved in thefts in several public institutions and private properties, including stores, an automatic teller machine and a post office, Mrs. Hakima said.

The riots broke out overnight from Saturday to Sunday in several Tunisian regions, including Tunis, Ariana, Sousse, Kef and Kairouan.

Hakima added that the protesters had no intention to protest peacefully, insisting that their sole aim was property destruction and plunder.

News Central reports that the riots were reportedly sparked by a video shared online, which showed a police officer assaulting a shepherd. In the video, the officer was seen pushing the shepherd.

The riots comes hours after Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi named 12 new ministers on Saturday in a cabinet reshuffle.

Mechichi named Walid Dhabi as the new interior minister, having this month sacked Taoufik Charfeddine, who is close to President Kais Saied, a move underscoring tensions between the country’s two most powerful leaders

Saied and Mechichi are at odds over their respective powers and political alliances, jeopardising the stability required to push through much-needed reforms.

Hedi Khairi was named health minister following criticism over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with the official date for the start of vaccinations in Tunisia still unknown.

Mechichi named Youssef Zouaghi as justice minister, Sofien Ben Touns as minister of energy and Oussama Kheriji as minister of agriculture.

“The next stage is full of challenges, including the necessary reforms for the economy, which require increased efficiency and harmony”, Mechichi said.

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