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Tunisia’s Public Transport Strike Paralyzes much of the Capital

The streets of Tunis nearly came to a standstill on Monday, as public transport workers walked off their jobs in protest against delays in payments. Transport workers gathered outside the prime minister’s office in Kasbah square, accusing the authorities of ignoring their sector’s many problems. They singled out particularly the delay in disbursing payments. The strike affected traffic in the Tunisian capital on the first day of schools and universities after the end-of-term break. Tunisian officials decried the “surprise” strike, and the transport minister blamed it for canceling exams after students could not make it to their educational institutions. Tunisians have been struggling for months amid a sharply deteriorating economy which has led to shortages in many staple items. The government of President Kais Saied, whose July 2021 power grab brought much opposition, has been scrambling to secure a $1.9 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. However, IMF demands for lifting food and energy subsidies and restructuring public firms have stood in the way of securing the fund, as the politically sensitive prerequisites could further slump Saied’s popularity and stir further opposition against his government.