The Tunisian General Trade Union (UGTT) denounced the use of tear gas against a 'peaceful march attended by women and children' after police dispersed demonstrators marching in the Kef on Tuesday, April 19. The protesters were taking part in a march organized by the Kef regional office of the UGTT to express dissatisfaction with a series of economic measures announced by Prime Minister Habib Essid ahead of a working visit to the Kef on Friday, April 17.
According to a statement, given to and reported by Tunisia-Live "the Ministry has confirmed that tear gas was used after police came under attack by a group of around 150 protesters throwing stones at officers who were trying to prevent the crowd from reaching the Governorate’s Headquarters."
The use of tear gas in the Kef comes days after police unsuccessfully attempted to disperse protests with tear gas on the opposite end of Tunisia, on the Mediterranean island of Kerkennah. Local security forces on Kerkennah withdrew from the island and were relieved by Tunisian Army forces from the mainland which restored order, but not before several local security offices and vehicles were ransacked.
The measures which provoked the marchers' dissatisfaction were announced in a press release after a limited cabinet meeting on Thursday, April 14, a day ahead of Essid's visit.
The statement from the Prime Minister's office referenced unblocking regional development projects, the establishment of two free trade zones along the Algerian border meant to deter smuggling and a series of agriculture related measures related to irrigation and road projects as well as changes to zoning practices.