Tunisians impatient for revolution to bear fruit

Wed Nov 23, 2011 2:31pm EST
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By Christian Lowe

TAZARKA, Tunisia (Reuters) - Ridha Ben Salha is fed up waiting for Tunisia's revolution to translate into a better life for his town.

He and a group of his friends and neighbors spent weeks camped outside Tazarka's biggest employer, a gas and oil processing plant, to pressure its owners into giving more jobs to local people and putting more money into the community.

They had hoped after President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was thrown out in January there would be some relief from poverty and inequality.

But that hasn't happened, and people in Tazarka, 90 km (55 miles) south-east of the capital, are getting angry.

"All we are asking for is our rights," said Ben Salha outside the site, which he and dozens of others brought to a standstill late last month by blocking trucks from leaving with their cargoes of cooking gas.

Tazarka stands as a warning to Tunisia's post-revolution authorities of what could happen to the country if they don't match the new freedoms won in the revolution with improvement in ordinary people's living standards -- and fast.

"Why should a population support a democracy if they do not get anything, if the work does not come?" said a Western diplomat in the capital Tunis.


<p>A protester shouts "We want justice!" during a demonstration outside the parliamentary building in Tunis November 22, 2011. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi</p>