By Dado Ruvic, TUZLA, Bosnia
(Reuters) – Protesters set fire to a government building and clashed with riot police in Bosnia on Friday in a third day of unrest over high unemployment and two decades of political inertia since the country’s 1992-95 war.
Demonstrators smashed windows and set fire to the offices of the local government in the northern town of Tuzla, while in the capital, Sarajevo, police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse a crowd of several thousand.
Protests were called for Friday in towns and cities across Bosnia, in a sign of growing anger over the lack of economic and political progress since the country broke from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and descended into war. More than one in four of the country’s workforce were out of a job in 2013.
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An estimated 4,000 Bulgarian workers protested on Wednesday against low wages and a lack of jobs, a sign that opposition to the Socialist-led cabinet may be spreading beyond its student base. Wednesday is the 160th consecutive day of protests, which were triggered by a controversial cabinet nomination in June.
Wednesday’s protesters, led by Bulgaria’s largest trade union CITUB, marched through the capital Sofia to demand a 10 percent increase in public sector salaries and reforms in the inefficient and corruption-prone healthcare and energy sectors.
We want to see the economy turned to the problems of the workers. We want decent pay and jobs. If the government do not take note now, our next move will be to go to strike,” said CITUB leader Plamen Dimitrov.
The centre-left government has faced almost daily protests since taking office in May. Corruption was the main cause of disgruntlement at the outset of the demonstrations, which had until now been led by students and relatively well-to-do urban professionals who account for a small proportion of Bulgaria’s population. Their daily protests in front of parliament have focused less on bread-and-butter issues and more on what they say is the poor governance that still blights Bulgaria more than two decades after the fall of communism and six years after it joined the European Union.
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