Tunisia starts curfew amid protests; France offers 1B euros

Demonstrators march in the Tunisian city of Kasserine on Friday.

Story highlights

  • The North African country has seen a wave of demonstrations over unemployment
  • The protests come five years after similar complaints in Tunisia led to first Arab Spring revolution
  • France announces 1 billion euros in aid to Tunisia over five years

(CNN)Tunisia's government Friday announced a nationwide curfew as it counters demonstrations over a scarcity of jobs -- protests that come five years after similar complaints in the North African country spurred the first Arab Spring revolution.

After news of the curfew emerged, France announced a 1 billion euro aid package to its former protectorate -- one that France said would help Tunisia tackle its economic and social challenges.
The curfew, starting Friday, will run from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in an attempt to protect public and private property from attack, the country's interior ministry said.
Demonstrators have recently taken to Tunisia's streets, protesting against, among other things, a high unemployment rate and poverty. One protester died and an unspecified number of police officers and demonstrators were injured in recent clashes, the country's state-run Tunis Afrique Presse reported.
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said earlier this week that the protests were legitimate, but that people should understand that his government inherited the country's high unemployment and poverty issues, and that the protests "must not be amplified" as the government works through the problems.
Essebsi was elected in late 2014 in the country's first free presidential vote.

French aid

On Friday afternoon, French President François Hollande pledged that his government would give Tunisia a 1 billion euro aid package over five years.
Hollande made the announcement after meeting with Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid in Paris.
Essid said that his government is working to resolve the unemployment challenges, and that "the situation in Tunisia is moving toward stability," TAP reported.
Tunisia's recent unrest comes five years after popular protests spurred authoritarian President Zine el Abedine Ben Ali to flee the country in January 2011. This was the first of the Arab Spring revolutions that toppled some other autocratic leaders in the Arabic-speaking region in North Africa and the Middle East.
Tunisia's "Jasmine Revolution" led to a transition to democracy and eventually Essebsi's election in 2014.