TUNIS, Dec 1, 2012 (AFP) -
TUNIS, Dec 1, 2012 (AFP) –
Tunisia’s government and main trade union reached a deal on Saturday aimed at satisfying demands by demonstrators in the impoverished governorate of Siliana angry over poor living conditions.
One of the demands was for the resignation of regional Governor Ahmed Ezzine Mahjoubi. The deal envisages sidelining, but not removing him, and putting his deputy in charge.
“The deputy of the governorate is charged with managing the governorate while awaiting the appropriate decisions by the authorities,” Mohamed Ben Salem, the minister of agriculture and government representative in the negotiations, told reporters in the capital.
“The two parties have agreed to work together to calm the situation,” he said, adding that steps would be taken to ensure the economic development of the region, another of the protesters main grievances.
“It’s a positive step, pending concrete decisions,” said Belgacem Ayari, the deputy general of the UGTT union, which is organising the protests.
But Ayari insisted on the need to order the withdrawal of police reinforcements in Siliana, which he blamed for the violence that has rocked the town since Tuesday.
“They provoked the residents,” he said.
The town, 120 kilometres (70 miles) southwest of Tunis, has been the epicentre of protests and clashes between the police and protesters this week, nearly two years after the revolution.
Residents are also demanding financial aid and an end to police aggression, similar grievances behind the mass uprising that toppled former strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011 and touched off the Arab Spring.