Tunisia: mayor detained for street vendor's suicide

Protest against cost of life in Mornag, clashes with police

26 September, 17:45

    TUNIS - The mayor of Mornag, a town south of Tunis, was arrested on Monday by police after the suicide of a street vendor without a license whose scale was seized by municipal services, the local tribunal's spokesperson has said. According to local media, Mohamed Amine Dridi, 25, hanged himself last Saturday, two days after municipal officials seized the electronic scale he used to weigh the fruit and vegetables he sold on a stall. The mayor of Mornag was placed under administrative detention as part of the investigation into the suicide, the spokesperson of the tribunal of the Ben Arous governorate told AFP.

    The gesture is a reminder of the suicide committed by Mohamed Bouazizi, another vendor who set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, to protest against the seizure of his property by police.

    The suicide sparked the Tunisian revolution that ended the government of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, leading the way to Arab Spring uprisings in the region.

    On Sunday night, clashes were recorded in Mornag between demonstrators and the police, according to local media and images posted on social media. Chanting a slogan that denounced unemployment and the high cost of life, demonstrators burned tires and blocked Mornag's main road. Police then fired tear gas to disperse them.

    According to the interior ministry, the vendor who committed suicide had "serious family problems", an allegation denied by his brother in a radio interview. The suicide was reported as Tunisia is gripped by strong social discontent. The country is dealing with a grave economic crisis with lack of basic food and high inflation. NGOs and members of the opposition have accused security forces of using methods similar to those used by police during the former regime, since President Kais Saied took full powers in July 2021.

    Another demonstration against the deterioration of living conditions, during which tires were burned, was reported last night, in the low-income district of Douar Hicher, north of Tunis, according to local media.

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