Unemployed protesters threw stones and used tires to block a road outside Melita on the island of Kerkennah, Governorate of Sfax) after police used tear gas to disperse sit inners inside and the roadblock outside a natural gas production facility on Kerkennah run by UK based oil company Petrofac when negotiations to end the protest failed on Monday, April 4.
The Ministry of the Interior said around one hundred protesters clashed with police, ransacking four vehicles, two cars and two buses used by security personnel.
The attempt to clear the Petrofac facility on Kerkennah, which has halted production since sit in protests by unemployed protesters demanding public sector employment began in January, comes a week after a Cabinet meeting focused on ending production halting protests was held by Prime Minister Habib Essid signaled a coming crackdown.
After the cabinet meeting Government Spokesman, Khaled Chouket, referred to production halting protests by unemployed sit inners as ‘economic terrorism’.
In addition to Petrofac’s Kerkennah facility, which produces a large portion of Tunisia’s domestically consumed natural gas, sit in protesters have contributed to massive drops in the critical phosphates sector destined for export.
Phosphates, Tunisia’s largest non-agricultural export commodity, has also seen production shutdowns in the Governorate of Gafsa.