Unemployed man, 27, in Tunis fire protest

An UNEMPLOYED young man has set himself on fire in Tunis in a gesture recalling the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, whose death began a revolt that echoed across the Arab world.

Security forces and bystanders tried to extinguish the flames yesterday before the man was taken to hospital, witnesses said.

“He is in very critical condition,” a medical source in Mourouj hospital said.

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The incident came hours before prime minister-designate Ali Larayedh was due to seek a confidence vote for his new Islamist-led government from the National Constituent Assembly.

The man burned himself outside the municipal theatre in the capital’s main Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the focus for protests that toppled president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two years ago.

An official said the man was long-term unemployed, aged 27 and came from the north-western city of Jandouba. Tunisia’s unemployment rate stands at about 17 per cent.

Several Tunisians have set themselves ablaze in the past two years in protests emulating Bouazizi, a trader who torched himself on 17 December 2010 in Sidi Bouzid after a policewoman confiscated his fruit cart.