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MIDEAST > Tunisian vendor dies from self immolation injuries

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A jobless man who set fire to himself in the Tunisian capital died in hospital March.13, a development which could provoke renewed anger against the Islamist-led government.

“This young man is already dead as a result of severe burns,” Imed Toiuibi, the director of the Ben Arous Burns Center, told Agence France-Presse.

Adel Kedhri, 27, set himself on fire in the centre of Tunis on March 12. Officials said Khadri, from a very poor family in the northwestern locality of Jendoubam, had arrived in the capital a few months ago to look for work.

Witnesses quoted him as shouting: “This is a young man who sells cigarettes because of unemployment,” before setting himself on fire on the steps of the municipal theatre on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, epicenter of the uprising that toppled ex-dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali more than two years ago.

The number of people committing suicide or attempting to has multiplied since young street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, in a drastic act of protest against police harassment. Bouazizi’s self-immolation in the town of Sidi Bouzid ignited a mass uprising that ousted Ben Ali the following month and touched off the Arab Spring uprisings.

Kedhri’s death occurred while Tunisia’s new Islamist-led government won a confidence vote from the National Constituent Assembly.

Prime Minister Ali Larayedh has said the government, which was backed by 139 of the National Constituent Assembly’s 217 members, would serve only until an election later in the year, Reuters reported. “We received the message,” Larayedh said of Khedhri’s death, without commenting further.
Presenting his government’s program the previous day, he said its priorities would be tackling unemployment, now at 17 percent, and rising prices, along with providing security.

The economic and social problems that fuelled Tunisia’s uprising have yet to be solved and often spark unrest. Feuding politicians have missed deadlines to produce a new constitution and set dates for parliamentary and presidential elections.

March/13/2013

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