A group of residents of El Kef in northwestern Tunisia marched through the city’s streets today, January 19, towards the governor’s office to demand their right for development and social justice, confirmed Mounira Amira, a National Constituent Assembly representative of El Kef affiliated with the ruling Ennahdha party.
Abdelkader Trabelsi, governor of El Kef, told Tunisia Live that over 150 protesters went out to the streets to demonstrate regional marginalization as well as the increase in poverty and unemployment. The very same reasons drove El Kef natives to organize a general strike in their governorate on January 16. Today’s march aimed at protesting the “indifference of the government.”
Trabelsi stated that protesters accused him of saying, “let it burn,” and denied saying such a statement. He claimed that he too recognizes the major economic difficulties in the region and has been attempting to apply the proper strategies to fix them. “I received a group of the protesters and discussed their demands with them… Their demands of investment and employment are legitimate… But we need to work hand in hand to solve our problems,” he added.
According to the governor, El Kef has over 22,000 unemployed, including 5,000 university graduates. The main problems the region suffers from are infrastructure, poverty, and the absence of private investment. Trabelsi said that they have been trying to undertake several projects, which unfortunately were either delayed or impeded by various difficulties, such as the absence of land leases.
“We started working on a project through which we aimed at building 50 homes for poor families. The project is now pending as some people claimed the land to be theirs,” he argued.
The governor continued to explain that short-term solutions for unemployment are limited and long-term solutions need time. El Kef should benefit from its position on the Algerian border, he argued, and take advantage of its environmental and cultural tourism.