afrol News, 14 January - The massive popular protests against the regime of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali have been successful. This evening, President Ben Ali fled the country and handed over powers to Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi.
Mr Ghannouchi in a televised speech announced he had taken over powers as an interim President, confirming earlier rumours that President Ben Ali had fled the country in a chartered airplane.
Before deciding to flee the country, President Ben Ali made a last desperate effort to meet popular demands by sacking the entire government, including Prime Minister Ghannouchi, and promising ample reforms. This means that Mr Ghannouchi was not longer Tunisian Prime Minister as he declared himself interim President.
The newest reports from Tunis also indicate that the crowds controlling the streets are not satisfied by Mr Ghannouchi's takeover. The new interim leader was seen as the right hand of the deposed dictator.
Protests are therefore ongoing in the Tunisian capital, and clashes between security forces and protesters are still reported. Policew forces are reported to be using sharp ammunition.
The uprising, which started modestly in December as a social protest with demands for better employment possibilities, during the last week has developed into a political movement demanding the retreat of long-time Dictator Ben Ali.
As the protests grew in force, President Ben Ali this week has tried to make several concess
Protesters in the Tunisian capital, clashing with police forces
ions, including the release of arrested protesters, a massive employment programme, the sacking of unpopular government members, and - today - even a promise of free elections. But the concessions came too late and the demand for his retreat were no longer possible to stop.
With the sudden departure of President Ben Ali this evening, the popular revolution seems to have succeeded. While interim leader Ghannouchi is not a popular figure, and his grip onto power still is unsecured, the path towards a democratic election could now be open.
But Tunisia has few democratic forces that stand ready to take on control. Since independence, President Ben Ali and his predecessor Habib Bourguiba (1956-87) ruled the country in an almost totalitarian way. Securing economic development to reach all parts of the population, they made most Tunisians accept the strict limits of political freedom.
The North African country now stands without any independent press, democratic opposition parties or independent civil society groups. So far, the trade union has stood out as the nucleus of the new democracy movement.
While the demonstrators have secure the fall of Mr Ben Ali, they yet have to consolidate their road towards democracy.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.