CAIRO, Egypt — A young Tunisian cigarette vendor who self-immolated prior to an important vote on a new national government has died of his injuries, mirroring the 2010 self-immolation case of Mohamed Bouazizi, widely credited for helping to ignite the Arab Spring movement.
Twenty-seven year old Adel Al Kharzi died on March 13 from severe burns, wrote Al Jazeera, after igniting himself in the Tunisian capital of Tunis on March 12 as a protest against continuing unemployment.
Read more from GlobalPost: Tunisian man self-immolates ahead of vote
"This is a young man who sells cigarettes because of unemployment. Allahu Akbar! [God is greatest!]" Kharzi reportedly shouted, before setting himself ablaze on the street, near where the protests that unseated Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali took place two years ago. Bystanders attempted to put out the flames.
GlobalPost Senior Correspondent in Cairo, Erin Cunningham, said it was likely no mistake that Al Kharzi set himself alight in the heart of the capital just hours before Tunisia’s interim parliament was set to vote on approving a new cabinet.
"The new cabinet is being formed from the ashes of the previous government, dissolved after the February assassination of opposition activist, Chokri Belaid, plunged the country deeper into political crisis," Cunningham said. "Tunisians want to see the new government tackle unemployment, set a concrete timeline for the nation’s democratic transition, and restore security on the streets."
Cunningham said that Al Kharzi’s self-immolation is an indication of what is at stake for the leaders that have so far fumbled the transition period, failing to write a constitution, and stalling economic reforms.
"Al Kharzi’s aunt told a local television station that police had recently harassed her nephew for selling cigarettes without a license," Cunningham said. "Protesters have mobilized in large numbers since the uprising two years ago, clashing with police that have yet to be reformed. With a youth population growing as desperate as Al Kharzi, the potential for further unrest and economic and political stagnation is real."