Economy Tunisians protest against poverty, high prices and food shortages By Reuters September 26, 2022 Reuters/Jihed Abidellaoui A tea vendor in Tunis. Tunisia is seeking an IMF loan to save its public finances from collapse Hundreds of Tunisians protested against poverty, high prices and food shortages in the capital on Sunday night, escalating pressure on the government of President Kais Saied. Tunisia is struggling to revive its public finances as discontent grows over inflation of nearly 9 percent and a shortage of many food items in stores because the country cannot afford to pay for some imports. The North African nation is also in the midst of a severe political crisis since Saied seized control last year and dissolved parliament in a move his opponents described as a coup. In the poor Douar Hicher district of Tunis, some protesters lifted loaves of bread in the air. Others chanted: “Where is Kais Saied?” Angry youths burned tires. Food security report delivers stark warning to import-reliant GulfTunisia hopes to reach deal with IMF by end of OctoberTunisia’s trade deficit jumps to $5.3bn in eight months of 2022 In the Mornag suburb, young men blocked roads, protesting the death of a young fruit seller. The man’s family says he killed himself after municipal police harassed him and seized a weighing machine when he was selling fruit in the street without permission. Riot police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters in Mornag. Protesters raised slogans against the police and threw stones. In Douar Hicher, protesters chanted “Jobs, freedom and national dignity,” “We can’t support crazy price hikes” and “Where is sugar?”. Food shortages are worsening in Tunisia, with empty shelves in supermarkets and bakeries adding to the popular discontent at high prices. Many Tunisians are spending hours searching for staples such as sugar, milk, butter, cooking oil and rice. Videos posted on social media on Sunday showed dozens of customers scrambling to win a kilogram of sugar in market. Tunisia is seeking to secure an International Monetary Fund loan to save public finances from collapse. This month the government raised the price of cooking gas cylinders by 14 percent. It also raised fuel prices for the fourth time this year as part of a plan to reduce energy subsidies, a policy change sought by the IMF.