Rene Alaniz

"Tunisia: Bread Riots"

Africa Research Bulletin, Dec. 15- Jan. 14, 1984

Main Point

This article also argues that the rioting that took place in Tunisia was not due only to the increase in prices of bread but other unforseen elements. The unrest that took place also comes form the worsening economic conditions of Tunisia most notably in the south. Differing philosophies between the Prime Minister, people within the ruling class and other outside faction has led to unrest.


The killing of twenty five people in the riots called for a state of emergency within Tunisia. These rioters were protesting the doubling of bread prices in one of the poorer regions in Tunisia. While the government blamed Libya for outside influences in instigating the upheaval. Other possible elements were linked to Islamic fundamentalist groups who do not favor Tunisian policy. Also many of the younger dislike the ruling party and believes that corruption has increased over the years.


Neglected Hinterland

The southern area of Tunisia where many of the riots took place is one of the poorest regions. This area known as the Hinterland has the highest unemployment rate within Tunisia. This area has not benefitted much from economic development as compared to the capital and other areas of Tunisia. The Hinterland area is a place where few get to voice their interests.

Economic Downturn

Government actions such as wage increases in 1983 have helped to push up inflation into double figures. Also the lowering of output and prices for Tunisia’s currency has led to a decline in foreign tourists. These problems coupled with a growing fued between the Prime Minister and members of President Bouguibas ruling class has given less authority to the people of Tunisia.

Price Increase Rescinded

Bourguiba announced the cancellation of the price increases due to the deaths caused by the rioting. He also rid Tunisia’s Interior Prime Minister Driss Guiga who was thought to be responsible for the actions of the police.

Commission of Inquiry

President Bouguiba ordered an inquiry into the riots to determine what the motivating issues of the riots were. His reasoning was to "shed light on the real factors of the riots" that sparked the unrest.



The problem of unrest will not be ended merely by lowering the prices of bread back down to the original price. It is by finding out the real underlying issues that further problems can be avoided in Tunisia.