The Tunisian leader told demonstrators in the suburbs of Tunis not to let the looters exploit their “poverty and misery”.
Protesters in Tunisia protested for the fourth day in a row against the worsening social and economic crisis in the country when the president showed up to a rally and told them to stop.
Blocking streets and setting fire to barricades on Monday, protesters clashed with police who responded by firing tear gas. Protesters looted shops and threw stones and Molotov cocktails at government buildings and businesses in some areas.
President Kais Saied visited Ariana, a town near the capital Tunis, and called on people not to let others take advantage of their anger and poverty.
“Through you, I want to speak to all the Tunisian people, I know the state of poverty and I also know who exploits your poverty. Don’t let anyone exploit your misery, don’t attack private or public property. We live today because of moral values and not because of theft or looting, ”Saied told a crowd.
Tunisians angry at the high unemployment rate and the financial crisis in the North African country have been demonstrating since Friday in Kasserine, Tunis and several other cities.
Protesters shouted “Dissolve parliament, dissolve parliament” on Monday.
The Department of Defense has deployed the military to some areas to protect private and public property. He announced that the troops would conduct joint patrols with the security forces in the regions of Siliana, Kasserine, Sousse and Bizerte, where clashes with the police broke out.
The Home Office said authorities had made 630 arrests related to Sunday’s violence alone.
10th anniversary of the Arab Spring
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International called for restraint, citing footage of police beating and dragging people they had arrested, and said authorities should immediately release rights activist Hamza Nassri Jeridi of the man arrested on Monday.
“The security forces must immediately refrain from using unnecessary and excessive force to disperse protesters in the capital and several governorates against marginalization, police violence, poverty and lack of employment opportunities,” said he declared.
Tunisia commemorated on Thursday the 10th anniversary of the flight into exile of iron-fisted autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after a popular revolt that heralded pro-democracy uprisings, conflicts and war in the region during what has become the Arab Spring.
Long touted as the only success of the Arab Spring, Tunisians increasingly feel that the revolution has failed to deliver on its promises, including the development of rural and less industrialized regions in the interior.
Despite numerous democratic elections, protests continue to erupt, especially in the central and southern regions where youth unemployment reaches 30% and the level of poverty is above 20%.
According to the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, more than 1,000 demonstrations took place in November alone. Months of sit-in protests have crippled production of oil and phosphate, a key resource, costing billions of dollars in lost government revenue.