Approximately three thousand members the Union of Internal Security Forces (SNFSI-Syndicat National des Forces de Securite Interieure) protested outside the Presidential Palace in Carthage (i.e. police, and Presidential Guard) calling on President Beji Caid Essebsi to intervene on their behalf in stalled negotiations for cost of living pay increases and their ‘social situation’.
Dressed in civilian clothes they chanted “Wages still in the red”, and “We defend the nation, we want our rights,”
The SNFSI rejected an earlier proposed wage increase of 80 dinars and are holding out in hopes of obtaining compensation for security officers whose homes are vandalized, higher transportation premiums and similar benefits as enjoyed by members of the armed forces, which recieve health care for retired members.
President Essebsi later met with a delegation of union members and assured the SNFSI members that he would review their case with Prime Minister Habib Essid.
The protest had been scheduled to take place last Monday January 18 but was delayed in light of the wave of protests which began Sunday. The protests, over unemployment, corruption, and a lack of economic development; followed the death of Ridha Yahyaoui, an unemployed man from Kasserine. The scale of the protests steadily increased throughout the week until a curfew was imposed on Friday January 22.
Incidences of looting and rioting not associated with the protests has also flared up in several cities. Highlighting the risks to security forces, thus far the during the ongoing unrest two security force members were killed. Thus far there are no reported deaths amongst the protesters or looters.
On Wednesday police officer Sofiene Bousslimi was killed when assaulted by protesters near Kasserine after his police car was overturned, and on Saturday Security agent Laabidi Dridi was found dead in Gafsa.
The SNFSI is also the union to which the Presidential Guard belong, of which twelve members were killed when a suicide bomber blew up their bus in Tunis on November 23, 2015. Islamic State affiliated Jund al Khilafah claimed responsibility for the attack.