See also:
» 24.03.2011 - How cyber-activism lent savvy to North African protests
» 27.02.2011 - 84-year-old is new PM in Tunisia
» 27.02.2011 - Tunisia PM Ghannouchi resigns
» 26.02.2011 - Tunisia police attacks large protest march
» 23.02.2011 - Exodus from Libya; foreigners targeted
» 05.02.2011 - Tunisia govt improves rights situation
» 01.02.2011 - Tunisia freedoms still not secured
» 31.01.2011 - EU freezes Tunisia dictator's assets

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Popular revolution successful in Tunisia

Tunisia's interim leader Mohamed Ghannouchi

© Mohamed Hammi/Rep française/afrol News
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

© FIDH/afrol News
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.

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