Jan 25 (Reuters) - Protests have spread in a number of North African and Middle Eastern countries, and continue in Tunisia following the downfall of president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
— In Egypt, lawyer Mohamed Farouk Hassan, 52, shouted slogans against rising prices before setting himself alight on Jan. 18 and a second man tried to follow suit. A day earlier another Egyptian poured gasoline over himself and lit it after protesting against poor living conditions. His injuries were described as slight.
— Three more Egyptians set themselves alight on Jan. 21, one was seriously injured. The two other workers, from firms in Egypt’s textile sector, an industry from which many factory workers have led the most violent demonstrations against the government in recent years, also poured fuel over themselves and set themselves ablaze.
— Thousands of Egyptians demanded on Tuesday an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule and clashed with police, in unprecedented protests inspired by the downfall of Tunisia’s president. [ID:nLDE70O0SS]
— Egyptians face the same complaints that drove Tunisians to the street: surging food prices, poverty, unemployment and authoritarian rule that normally smothers public protests quickly and often brutally.
— Tuesday’s demonstrations also took place in Ismailia and Suez, both cities east of Cairo, and in other Nile Delta cities like Mansoura and Tanta. A protest also occured in north Sinai.
— Protests that brought down President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14 erupted after Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on Dec. 17 because police seized his grocery cart.
— Bouazizi died of his burns, becoming a martyr to crowds of students and the unemployed protesting against poverty and unemployment in Tunisia.
— Protests have continued since Ben Ali’s departure despite the formation of a new government. The government said 78 people were killed in demonstrations since December. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights put the number at 117, including 70 shot dead.
— Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi said on Friday he intended to retire from politics after organising elections but this has not stemmed the protests.
— Police fired teargas canisters on Jan. 24 to disperse protesters in central Tunis as pressure grew for the removal of government ministers linked to the ousted president Ben Ali.
— Teachers held a protest outside the Ministry of Education in Tunis and state television said some schools were closed.
— Several Algerian towns including the capital experienced days of rioting earlier this month, provoked by a jump in food prices. Two people died and hundreds were injured during clashes between rioters and police, officials said. At least four men set themselves on fire in provincial towns in the past week.
— To calm the situation, Algeria has decided to cut the cost of some foodstuffs and to increase by 18 percent the amount of soft wheat it supplies to the local market each month.
— Hundreds of protesters chanted slogans against Prime Minister Samir al-Rifai in the southern city of Karak on Jan. 14.
— The peaceful protest was held despite hastily announced government measures to curb commodity and fuel prices. Similar demonstrations were held in the capital Amman and the northern town of Irbid, and about 200 people protested in the Dhiban, south of Amman.
— Jordan announced a $225 million package of cuts in the prices of some types of fuel and of staple products including sugar and rice.
— Students held protests in the universities of Khartoum and Gezira against proposed cuts in subsidies in petroleum products and sugar, a strategic commodity in Sudan.
— The protests spread to the towns of Wad Medani and Hassa Heissa in Gezira state, where students clashed with police who used tear gas to subdue crowds.
— Prices of other goods have already risen due to a surge in global food prices and a devaluation of the local currency.
— About 200 people protested this month in Muscat demanding the government to stop corruption and address rising prices in a protest that appeared to have been inspired by the toppling of the Tunisian president.
— In Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott, Yacoub Ould Dahoud staged a self-immolation protest on Jan. 17 against alleged government mistreatment of his tribe.
— A Saudi man in his sixties died after setting fire to himself on Jan. 21 in underdeveloped Jizan province bordering Yemen. It was not clear whether his act was inspired by other cases of self-immolation in the region.
— Libya has abolished taxes and custom duties on locally-produced and imported food products in response to a global surge in food prices, Oea newspaper reported.
— The measures include wheat by-products, rice, vegetable oil, sugar and infant formula, Oea said.
-- Morocco introduced a compensation system for importers of milling soft wheat aimed at keeping prices stable after a surge in grain prices. (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/) (Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit;