In an official statement, on February 4, the Ministry of the Interior announced, effective immediately, that the curfew which applied to the entirety of Tunisia was lifted.
The curfew was eased twice by two hours, for the last six days it has applied to the hours between midnight and 5 a.m., since it was put in effect on Friday, January 22.
The original 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew was imposed after a peak in violence which began as clashes between protesters and police in the interior spread throughout Tunisia and pockets of rioting and looting occurred in coastal areas.
The protests began in Kasserine following the funeral of Ridha Yahyaoui on Sunday, January, 17. Yahyaoui, an unemployed man in his twenties, had been participating in sit in protests outside the municipal headquarters with other unemployed youth demanding municipal jobs.
On Saturday, January 16, upon discovering that his name had been removed from a list job candidates maintained by the municipality, Yahyaoui climbed an electric post near the sit-in. Whether accidentally or as an intentional act of suicide, Yahyaoui came into contact with the high tension wires and was electrocuted. Yahyaoui was transported to the regional hospital in Sfax where he pronounced dead late on Saturday, January 16.
Over the course of the protests two police officers, Sofiene Bousslimi and Laabidi Dridi, in the governorates of Kasserine and Gafsa respectively, were beaten to death. Although hundreds of protesters were injured, a significant number from tear gas inhalation, none are reported to have died as a result of actions taken by security officials. Well over a thousand arrests have been made, roughly half for minor curfew infractions, and half for criminal offenses ranging from vandalism to murder of the two police officers.
The Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment’s website lists Tunisia’s overall unemployment rate for 2014 as 15% against a rate of 15.3% in 2013, and 16.7% in 2012. Youth unemployment stands in excess of 30% nationally and higher in certain regions, particularly the interior governorates of Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine.
The curfew was the first to apply to the entirety of Tunisian territory since the 2011 Revolution.
A limited curfew had been declared immediately after the November 24, 2015, suicide bombing in central Tunis which killed twelve members of Tunisia’s Presidential Guard on November 24. That curfew applied to the greater Tunis region (Tunis and the surrounding governorates of Ariana, Manouba and Ben Arous) and remained in effect for nearly three weeks after being extended several times.