Man commits suicide in protest

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SIDI BOUZID, Tunisia (AFP) – A young unemployed teenager has killed himself in Sidi Bouzid, the marginalised town in central Tunisia where the country’s revolution erupted two years ago, witnesses said on Tuesday.

Wissem Hani, 17, died on Sunday from a massive electric shock after clinging to an electric pylon in protest at his bleak circumstances, the witnesses told an AFP journalist.

The number of people committing suicide or attempting to take their own lives has multiplied since a young Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, in a drastic act of protest against police harassment.

Mohamed Bouazizi’s death ignited a mass uprising that toppled ex-dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali the following month and touched off the Arab Spring.

Limited economic prospects, especially in the neglected interior, were key factors behind Tunisia’s revolution. Two years on, nearly a quarter of the population lives in poverty, with unemployment at around 18 percent.

Last week in Sidi Bouzid, protesters angry at the government’s failure to improve living standards hurled rocks at President Moncef Marzouki after a speech he gave to mark the anniversary of the uprising.

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