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Tunisian PM says difficult economic situation will improve in 2018

Published: Updated:

Tunisia's economic is experiencing difficulties but 2018 will be the last year of hardship, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on Tuesday after a night of protests against austerity measures.

"People have to understand that the situation is extraordinary and their country is have difficulties but we believe that 2018 will be the last difficult year for the Tunisians," he told reporters in comments broadcast on local radio.

One person was killed on Monday during clashes between security forces and protesters in a Tunisian town, the government said, as demonstrations over rising prices and tax increases spread in the North African country.

A man was killed during a protest against government austerity measures in Tebourba, 40 km (25 miles) west of Tunis, the interior ministry said in a statement. He had had chronic breathing problems and died due to suffocation from inhaling tear gas, it said.

The protest had turned violent when security forces tried stopping some youths from burning down a government building, witnesses said. Five people were wounded and taken to a hospital, state news agency TAP said.

Tunisia, widely seen in the West as the only democratic success among nations where “Arab Spring” revolts took place in 2011, is suffering increasing economic hardship.

Anger has been building up since the government said that, from Jan. 1, it would increase the price of gasoil, some goods, and taxes on cars, phone calls, the internet, hotel accommodation and other items, part of austerity measures agreed with its foreign lenders.

The 2018 budget also raises customs taxes on some products imported from abroad, such as cosmetics, and some agricultural products.