Police, protesters clash again in Tunisia over unemployment

Tunisian Police officers patrol after clashes in the streets of Kasserine, southern of Tunisia. (AP)
Updated 27 December 2018

Police, protesters clash again in Tunisia over unemployment

  • Protests took place in six different towns including Kasserine, in west central Tunisia
  • Interior minister spokesman Sofiane Zaag said 14 people were arrested overnight

TUNIS, TUNISIA: Protesters have clashed with police for a third consecutive night in Tunisia after a journalist set himself on fire and died to denounce the economic problems engulfing the North African nation.
National Guard spokesman Housameddine Jebabli said Thursday that protests took place in six different towns including Kasserine, in west central Tunisia, where journalist Abderrazak Zorgui set himself ablaze this week.
Interior minister spokesman Sofiane Zaag said 14 people were arrested overnight, in addition to the 18 arrests announced Wednesday.
Protests started after Zorgui posted a video online before his self-immolation calling for a revolt. He expressed frustration at the country’s high unemployment and the unfulfilled promises of Tunisia’s 2011 Arab Spring revolution.
A similar self-immolation led to nationwide protests that brought down Tunisia’s long-time authoritarian president in 2011.


New board of directors appointed to run Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ state power company

Updated 08 July 2020

New board of directors appointed to run Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ state power company

  • Regulation of electricity sector a key condition of international bailout for collapsing economy

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s government finally appointed a new board of directors on Tuesday to control the state-owned electricity company.
Electricite du Liban (EDL) has long been mired in allegations of corruption and fraud. Its annual losses of up to $2 billion a year are the biggest single drain on state finances as Lebanon faces economic collapse and the plunging value of its currency.
Reform of the electricity sector has been a key demand of the International Monetary Fund and potential donor states before they will consider a financial bailout.
“Lebanon’s electricity policy has been inefficient and ineffective for decades — always on the brink of collapse, but staying afloat with last minute patchwork solutions,” said Kareem Chehayeb of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington, DC.
“The economic crisis has made fuel imports more expensive, causing a shortage, with external generator providers hiking their prices or seeking business in Syria. It is a wake-up call to decades of overspending and poor planning of a basic public service.”
The World Bank has described the electricity sector in Lebanon as “tainted with corruption and waste,” and the IMF said “canceling the subsidy to electricity is the most important potential saving in spending.”
Electricity rationing was applied for the first time to hospitals and the law courts, but Minister of Energy Raymond Ghajar said: “The first vessel loaded with diesel for power plants has arrived, and as of Wednesday the power supply will improve.”
Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised the Lebanese people on Tuesday that they would see the results of government efforts to resolve the country’s financial chaos “in the coming weeks.”
Addressing a Cabinet meeting, Diab said: “The glimmer of hope is growing.” However, the appointment of an  EDF board of directors was criticized by opposition politicians. Former prime minister Najib Mikati said the appointments meant “the crime of wrong prevailing over right … is being repeated.”