Tunisia protest leader freed after new clashes in deprived South

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A protest leader in southern Tunisia was released Wednesday, a lawyer said, four days after his arrest amid angry protests over unemployment in the marginalized region.

Tarek Haddad is the spokesman for a growing popular mobilization underway in Tataouine, a town where protesters are demanding authorities make good on a 2017 promise to provide jobs.


He had been arrested overnight on Saturday and charged with “participating in a gathering likely to disturb the peace.”

On Sunday and Monday, police in Tataouine clashed with protesters denouncing the government's unkept promises and demanding Haddad’s release.

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A court in the town of Tataouine, accepted a request for activist Haddad’s release, one of his lawyers Sofiene Chariout told AFP.

“Overnight I find myself with detention orders and court cases,” Haddad told AFP by phone on his release from prison, adding that he believed the charges were aimed at hindering the protest movement.

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For weeks, demonstrators have blocked roads and sought to prevent trucks from delivering supplies to the remote El-Kamour pumping station, a key site for Tunisia's small oil industry.

Southern Tunisia is one of the country’s most marginalized regions, with above average unemployment, failing infrastructure and a stunted private sector.

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