TUNIS (Reuters) - Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi urged Tunisians on Wednesday to return to work to prevent the economy collapsing after fears of growing lawlessness kept many people at home in recent days.
Tunisia has had two changes of government since weeks of popular protests ousted former president Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali on Jan. 14. Demonstrations had already brought the country to a standstill but the ouster of Ben Ali has also emboldened many Tunisians to strike to demand better pay and conditions.
“The government calls on you to preserve its independence by returning to work, otherwise the country may collapse,” Ghannouchi told privately-owned Hannibal TV.
“The security situation is normalising, we have passed the crisis of recent days and we urge you to resume work and defer your claims to meet the challenges.”
Marauding gangs of youths have intimidated Tunisians in recent days, rampaging through streets and schools and attacking government buildings.
The chaos was aggravated by a two-day police strike, but security forces returned to work on Wednesday.
Calm appeared to have returned to the capital. Shops and cafes were open and the narrow alleys of the old city were packed after weeks of closures.
Reporting By Tarek Amara