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Tunisian PM booed out of town hit by general strike

Crowds shout 'Work! Freedom! National dignity!' at Youssef Chahed as he is run out of meeting in Tataouine
Thousands of protesters gathered as part of a general strike earlier this month (AFP)

Tunisia's prime minister was booed off stage as he addressed a town meeting on Thursday in a southeastern region rocked by protests and a general strike.

Youssef Chahed and several government ministers arrived in Tataouine to find a town closed down by a general strike. 

The market, banks and shops in the town centre were shut and burned tyres lay in some streets - evidence of barricades erected during the protests of recent weeks.

The prime minister met representatives of civil society and announced measures to develop the region, which many locals claim is marginalised.

"Tataouine's right to development is not a favour," he said in a speech at the town hall.

But some of those attending the meeting shouted him down.

"Our young people have just two choices: drown in the sea or set themselves on fire!" one woman shouted.

It was a reference to clandestine migration and stallholder Mohamed Bouazizi, who burned himself to death on 17 December 2010 in protest at unemployment and police harassment and died a month later, sparking the first of the Arab Spring uprisings.

"Give us what we're owed by right!" a man shouted, before the crowd started chanting a slogan from the 2011 uprising: "Work! Freedom! National dignity!"

Chahed was soon forced to leave amid the boos of a crowd gathered outside the governorate building.

Tataouine locals have long demanded more jobs and a bigger share of the revenues from oil extraction in the region.

Tunisia has seen a wave of protests in recent months, six years since a revolution ignited by grievances over joblessness, corruption and perceived marginalisation of the country's periphery.