New clashes erupt in Tunisia town near Libya

Updated 12 January 2013
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New clashes erupt in Tunisia town near Libya

BEN GUERDANE, Tunisia: Clashes again broke out on yesterday between residents and police in Ben Guerdane near Tunisia’s border with Libya after nearly a week of demonstrations over poor living conditions.
Ben Guerdane, around 30 km from the border, has witnessed sporadic unrest since Sunday, fueled by Tripoli’s decision to close the Ras Jdir border crossing in early September for security reasons.
Dozens of youths, many of them masked, gathered outside the police station which was torched on Thursday and threw stones at police who responded with tear gas, an AFP journalist reported.
The local headquarters of the ruling Ennahda party were also ransacked this week.
“Ben Guerdane is Free! (Prime Minister Hamadi) Jebali out!” the protesters chanted of the government in Tunis, two days ahead of the second anniversary of the revolution that sparked off the Arab Spring.
The latest demonstration came as representatives of the authorities, trade unions and local tribes met in Ben Guerdane in an attempt to thrash out a solution to the crisis.
But Amar Hamdi, who heads the local branch of Tunisia’s main trade union confederation, the UGTT, said the talks had foundered and blamed the government.
“The authorities say this is a security problem, but we want development projects” for the region, Hamdi said, denouncing the fact that “no member of the government has come to Ben Guerdane to try to resolve the problem.”
Despite the crossing being reopened on Thursday, the local UGTT branch went ahead with a general strike in the border town to demand investment and jobs, with only chemists, hospitals and bakeries remaining open.
“We don’t want Ras Jdir reopened — we want development,” one protester in Ben Guerdane told AFP yesterday.
There is ongoing social discontent in Tunisia two years after the uprising that overthrew ex-dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14, 2011, with strikes and protests often degenerating into violence.
Unemployment and tough living conditions were key factors behind the revolt that touched off the Arab Spring, whose second anniversary will be celebrated on Monday.


Iran seeks assurances on nuclear deal after US pullout

Updated 51 min 5 sec ago
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Iran seeks assurances on nuclear deal after US pullout

  • The nations that remain in the Iran nuclear deal will meet for the first time since US President Donald Trump left the pact
  • The UN atomic watchdog policing the nuclear accord said on Thursday that Iran is still complying with the terms of the deal despite the US withdrawal

VIENNA: Iran wants European powers to give it a package of economic measures by the end of the month to compensate for the US withdrawal from their 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, a senior Iranian official said on Friday.
“We expect the package to be given to us by the end of May,” the official told reporters before talks in Vienna with Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
He added that Tehran would decide within the next few weeks whether to stay in the accord.
The nations that remain in the Iran nuclear deal meet later today for the first time since US President Donald Trump left the pact, but diplomats see limited scope for salvaging it after Washington vowed to be tougher than ever on Tehran.
The UN atomic watchdog policing the nuclear accord said on Thursday that Iran is still complying with the terms of the deal despite the US withdrawal, but that it could be faster and more proactive in allowing snap inspections.
The official said that if they were unhappy with how things panned out they would seek a ministerial meeting and then decide.
“I am personally maybe not optimistic but ... I am trying my best to come to a conclusion,” he said.
He said European measures would need in large part to ensure that oil exports remained the same and that the SWIFT international payments messaging system continued to work for Iran.