Hundreds of police staged a protest on Monday outside Tunisia’s presidential palace to demand a pay increase, in the latest sign of the country’s economic and social woes.
“We are defending our homeland but also our rights” and “Our accounts are in the red,” chanted the demonstrators, wearing civilian clothes rather than their uniforms, outside the palace in Carthage, on the outskirts of Tunis.
Presidential guards, which lost 12 of their members in a November bomb attack claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group, did not take part in the protest but wore black armbands in solidarity.
The demonstration was organised “after the failure of negotiations with the government on salary increases,” Riadh Rezgui, spokesperson for Tunisia’s domestic security services’ union, told AFP.
A government official who took part in the negotiations has said the cost of the pay increases demanded by police would amount to one billion dinars ($480 000).
Their union says that wages have not kept up with the rate of inflation.
Authorities appealed for patience after protests against poverty and unemployment in several town last week – in what was the worst social unrest in Tunisia since the 2011 revolution.
While Tunisia is hailed as a rare success story of the Arab Spring uprisings, authorities have failed to redress the economy or resolve the problems of social exclusion and regional inequalities.
Apart from the political turmoil of the past five years which has handicapped the economy, the North African country also faces jihadist violence that has devastated its vital tourism industry.