Prime Minister Mechichi addressed the nation but Tunisians appear fed up with a lack of economic opportunities.
Rabat – Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi’s cabinet reshuffle over the weekend has done little to stop large-scale protests and mounting political unrest. Mechichi replaced 12 ministers in his cabinet over the weekend and addressed the nation, yet Tunisians appear disillusioned with the political process and continue to take to the streets
In the weeks following the 10-year anniversary of Tunisia’s democratic revolution, citizens are expressing their frustration with a lack of employment opportunities and declining living conditions.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a devastating economic crisis in Tunisia while the country recorded nearly 20,000 new cases over the past week. Tunisia’s tourism sector has suffered tremendously and many young Tunisians feel hopeless about their futures.
Hopelessness and anger over government inaction have triggered large-scale protests over the past days, often leading to nightly clashes with police. What originated as a demonstration over economic challenges has morphed due to the heavy handed approach by Tunisia’s police and the military, which the government deployed in recent days to quell unrest.
Protesters in Tunisia appear to have taken the police response as further evidence that the government has few answers to the country’s economic issues. Prime Minister Mechichi aimed to calm mounting tensions in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, January 20.
Mechichi in his speech stated that he is aware of the “anger and frustration” among citizens and attempted to assure protesters that “your voice is heard, your anger is legitimate.”
Yet it appears that many Tunisians have little time for the promises of the country’s political class that they see as a source for the economic issues plaguing the country.
The current “technocratic” government has been in power since September 2, 2020. At the time, Mechichi presented a cabinet of unaffiliated technocrats in an effort to circumvent political infighting and brinkmanship that had created political deadlock in the midst of an intertwined public health and economic crisis.
With this weekend’s reshuffle, the promise of a non-political cabinet to address the country’s issues while remaining above the fray of political games appears to be coming apart. The drastic change did not appease protesters as unrest continued in Tunisia over the past days.