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Publish Date : Thursday 11 May 2017 - 06:49
Tunisian Army Deployed to Protect Oil, Gas Fields amid Protests
Tunisian Army Deployed to Protect Oil, Gas Fields amid Protests
Islam Times - Tunisia is deploying the army to protect phosphate, gas and oil production facilities after protests aimed at disrupting output broke out in the south of the country.
In a decree issued on Wednesday, Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi, for the first time, ordered troops to be used in protecting industrial installations vital to Tunisia's economy. Protests, sit-ins and strikes in recent years have cost the North African state billions of dollars.
For several weeks, about 1,000 protesters in Tatouine province, where Italy's ENI and Austria's OMV have gas operations, have been demanding jobs and a share in revenue from the area's natural resources.
Protests have also broken out in another southern province, Kebili, and on Wednesday police fired tear gas to break up rioting in a town west of Tunis after a fruit seller set himself on fire in protest against the police.
In an incident similar to the self-immolation in 2011 that sparked the uprising that toppled dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, the vendor in Tebourba poured gasoline over himself and set it ablaze. He was hospitalized and rioting erupted.
Six years after the uprising, Tunisia is trying to enact sensitive reforms to help growth, but many unemployed youths in the marginalized south still feel they have gained few opportunities.
Tunisia is a small oil and gas producer compared to its OPEC neighbors Libya and Algeria, with production around 44,000 barrels per day.
Protests that have also hit the phosphate sector in past years cost the country more than $2 billion, according to officials. But production has returned to the highest levels since 2010 after officials negotiated deals with protesters.
Story Code: 635658