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Protesters in Tunisia’s oil-rich southeast demand jobs

Tunisians wave the national flag in the southern city of Tatouine on 11th April, 2017

Tunisia’s southeastern Tataouine province on Thursday was paralysed by a general strike held to coincide with a visit to the region by Prime Minister Yusuf al-Shahid.

Most public and private institutions were closed for the day, with the exception of hospitals, pharmacies and bakeries.

The strike was held in response to perceived government foot-dragging in providing residents with job opportunities, protest organiser Tariq Haddad told reporters.

Al-Shahid visited Tataouine on Thursday at the head of an official delegation. While in the province, the prime minister is expected to meet with protest spokesmen and local civil society representatives.

Last month, Tataouine saw similar protests to demand more employment opportunities and the development of the oil-rich region.

According to Tunisia’s official statistical agency, the national unemployment rate stood at 15.5 per cent in the last quarter of 2016, although in Tataouine it reached as high as 30 per cent.

Last September, Italian energy giant Eni discovered a new oilfield south of Tataouine city.

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