Leftist Popular Front is leading the anti-austerity protests in Tunisia, says Prime Minister Chahed

By Staff Reporter

TUNISIAN Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has directly accused the Popular Front, a coalition of leftist parties, of being behind the violence, smashing and looting that accompanied the fresh anti-austerity protests where over 800 people have been arrested and at least one person died.

According to Al Jazeera’s dispatches from Tunis, people on the streets were enthusiastic about the protest movement’s momentum.

“People here say that they want to continue to take to the streets in order to put more pressure on the government to scrap the austerity measures,” Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra is quoted as saying. “They also blame the government for breaking the pledges it made about improving the life standards in the country as poverty and high unemployment continue.”

The Popular Front, which is the main opposition, according to Al Jazeera has called for demonstrations through the week while the government defends the measures as necessary to limit a budget deficit that hit six per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Protestors have burned state buildings and the government was prompted to deploy the army into a number of cities and towns, with most of the violence occurring in poorer areas of the capital, Tunis, and disadvantaged towns in the Tunisian hinterland where groups of young men clashed with security forces.

According to local media reports, fresh demonstrations were called for Sunday, the seventh anniversary of the 2011 toppling of authoritarian, president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

The Popular Front for the Realization of the Objectives of the Revolution (ej-Jabha) is a leftist political and electoral alliance in Tunisia, made up of nine political parties and numerous independents who are adherents of the Marxist-Leninist socialist ideology.

Founded in October 2012, the Popular Front of Tunisia has 15 representatives in the 217-member Assembly of the Representatives of the People and some of the parties that form part of this coalition are the Democratic Patriots’ Unified Party, Tunisian Ba’ath Movement, Workers’ Left League and Workers’ Party, among others.

During the second annual conference on Pan-Africanism Today held in Nebuel, a few kilometres outside the Tunisian capital, Tunis in June last year, Hamma Hammami, the leader of the Tunisian Popular Front, said the 2011 Tunisian revolution had been betrayed and that there was need for the Popular Front to emerge as a formidable force that would carry out another revolution against the compradors occupying government posts and the capitalist reactionaries in the post-Arab Spring Tunisia.

Hammami and other Popular Front leaders were among those that led the anti-austerity outside the Ministry of Interior offices in Tunis on Sunday, according to Al Jazeera TV news footage monitored from Lusaka yesterday.

Closing the three-day June 2016 Pan-Africanism Today conference held under the theme, ‘Building a stronger socialist platform for Africa’, Dr Cosmas Musumali from the recently-registered Socialist Party (SP) in Zambia, said Tunisia had been chosen as the host for the second Pan-Africanism Today global convocation because it was the home of the ‘revolution’.

“This conference was an issue of human dignity, that finally a seed of liberation and emancipation has been planted. That seed starts with the progressive forces on the continent that have to take the future into their hands,” Dr Musumali said. “We have to start creating that future that we need which has eluded generations before us and that answer is socialism. Capitalism has no answers to the problems confronting the African people.”

He said change was therefore not just possible but inevitable

“The war that is being fought can be approached through different methods but the underlying theme is that it is vicious. A conference such as this one serves to remind people about the huge tasks that lie ahead of them,” said Dr Musumali.

Credits: Al Jazeera and The Day Break News