An adviser to the Prime Minister of Tunisia has said that the government is committed to providing job opportunities in the southern province of Tataouine, Anadolu has reported. The province has seen a lot of social tension recently following accusations that the government has not fulfilled its pledges made in a 2017 agreement.
However, Jaouhar Ben Mbarek said on Thursday that the government is committed to all of its "operational" pledges in Tataouine. He made his comment during a visit to the province to meet the various parties involved in the Kamour Agreement and make preparations for a ministerial delegation to visit the governorate in the coming days.
"Within the framework of the continuity of the state, the government is committed to all of its pledges mentioned in the Kamour Agreement among others," Ben Mbarek explained. "Indeed, Tataouine deserves more than the Kamour Agreement."
Tataouine has witnessed three weeks of protests and a general strike affecting all public institutions, and the entire oil and gas sector, where production has fallen. The protesters were reported to be heading for the Kamour area on Thursday to conduct a sit-in.
In June 2017, the government and representatives of demonstrators in Kamour signed an agreement to end a sit-in that had lasted for more than two months, in exchange for meeting the demands for job opportunities and the development of the governorate.
A week ago, the government approved special measures for Tataouine, including employing 500 people in a number of sectors. This was met with popular rejection.
The protesters are demanding jobs for 1,500 individuals in the petroleum companies operating in the region; the employment of 500 others in the Environmental and Horticulture Company which specialises in the forestation of city approaches; and the allocation of 80 million dinars ($32 million) annually for the development fund within the governorate.
Tataouine has major oil and gas reserves, and national and foreign energy companies are working in the desert there. These fields contribute around 40 per cent to Tunisia's oil production, and 20 per cent of gas production.