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Tunisian who sparked rare protests dies

Tunisian who sparked rare protests dies
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A young fruit-seller who set himself on fire and sparked a rare wave of violent anti-government demonstrations in Tunisia has died of his injuries.

26-year-old Mohammed Bouazizi attempted suicide in front of a government building where he was protesting against the confiscation by police of his fruit and vegetable cart.

His death triggered spontaneous protests across the country against employment policies, with his cause embraced by jobless graduates, trade unions and human rights groups.

Three people died in the violence that followed and authorities accused government opponents of taking advantage of the emotion surrounding the case.

The wave of demonstrations died down when the country’s president named a new youth minister and a new governor for the city of Sidi Bouzid, where the incident happened.

President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has ruled the country for the past 23 years and Tunisia is often held up by the West as a model of stability and prosperity in the Arab world.

State media said Ben Ali ordered the government to spend 3.4 billion euros on tackling graduate unemployment in light of the Bouazizi case.

The jobless rate among young people in this former French protectorate is reported to be as high as 25 per cent, but public displays of discontent by its citizens is rare.