Tunisia releases 260 m euros for poor regions

AFP , Tuesday 25 Jan 2011

Decision to fund regions outside of the concentration of wealth in Tunis and the coast announced on a television talk show

Tunisia's interim government has agreed to grant 260 m euros (355 m dollars) to poor rural regions where an uprising against authoritarian rule began last month, a government minister said.

Regional Development Minister Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, a former opposition leader who was brought into the government after the ouster of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, announced the decision on a talk show late on Monday.

He said the money would go towards public works projects, reimburse businesses that have suffered damage and compensate the families of dozens of "martyrs" killed in a bloody crackdown by Ben Ali's security forces.

Social demonstrations began in central Tunisia last month after a 26-year-old fruit vendor set himself on fire to protest police abuses and the movement quickly escalated into an uprising against the widely hated Ben Ali.

There is widespread resentment amongst the inhabitants of central Tunisia that wealth is concentrated in Tunis and along the Mediterranean coastline and one of the demands of protesters is greater equality between regions.

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