Tunisia. Violent crows erupted in December after a young
unemployed academic, Mohammed Bouazizi, set fire to himself
in protest of police seizing the vegetables he sold in the
absence of a job. Bouazizi was killed by the burns and
several people were killed in the subsequent demonstrations
against unemployment. Four opposition movements - Ettajdid
(Renewal), Democratic Forum for Work and Freedom (FDTL) and
two newly formed groups - were reported June 10 to have
joined the Alliance for Citizenship and Equality. According
Tunisia has a population of 11.57 million (2018). The
alliance, which combined various forms of socialism and
social democracy, among others, invited a national dialogue
on a transition to democracy.
Eight people were sentenced July 10 to prison sentences
of up to twelve years for encouraging terrorism. Two of them
were sentenced in their absence since moving abroad, one
reportedly to Sweden. The others claimed that they had been
tortured to be admitted to what they were accused of. About
1,000 people were in Tunisian detention centers and prisons,
accused or convicted of planning to join jihadists in Iraq
In an attempt to curb the so-called Jasmine Revolution,
which was now mainly directed at Prime Minister Ghannouchi
and former party faithful governors and chiefs of police
around the country, Parliament on February 9 passed
emergency legislation giving President Fouad Mebazaa
far-reaching powers. He declared that all parties would
become legal in a matter of days and that Tunisia would
ratify a host of international treaties that otherwise would
have been outside the country. Among other things. ICC, the
treaties against torture and degrading treatment and the
Human Rights Convention's supplement to political and social
rights. The curfew was lifted on February 15, although other
parts of the state of emergency remained in effect.
Meanwhile, the show continued around the country with the
old representatives of Ben Ali and RCD. On February 27,
Ghannouchi was finally forced to resign as prime minister.
He was replaced by Beji Caid el Sebsi. Sebsi was born in
1926 and was 84 years old. From the country's independence
in 1956, he occupied key posts under Bourguiba and then Ben
Ali. The opposition therefore regarded him as a continuation
of the RCD regime.
The deposition of Ben Ali was officially welcomed by the
United States and the European Union, though both have for
decades maintained close relations with the dictator and his
kleptocracy. Among other things. In January it was revealed
that the French Foreign Minister had been flown around
Tunisia in December on President Ben Ali's private plane
during a holiday in the country. Both the US and the EU fear
that the introduction of democracy in Tunisia will lead to a
government that will not as uncritically support the US and
EU interests in the Middle East and North Africa. Even
worse, however, was that the rebellion Tunisia spread to
Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya who all
housed dictators who served the US and EU political
interests in the area.
In March-June, hundreds of thousands of refugees from
Libya poured into Tunisia. A large number of them were guest
workers who had worked in Libya and were now being
reprisaled during the civil war between the Libyan
government and rebels.
In October elections were held for the country's
constitutional assembly. The major victor of the election
became the right-wing and moderately Islamist Ennahda party,
which got 37% of the vote. 14 other parties got elected
members, but they all got less than 10% of the vote. Eight
independent candidates were elected, but almost a third of
the votes went to lists that did not obtain representation.
The election was a big disappointment for the country's
secular forces, which pointed to Ennahda's electoral
victory, among other things. was due to massive funding from
the Islamist dictatorships around the Persian Gulf.
In December 2011, Moncef Marzouki of the secular party
CPR was elected President of the Constitutional Assembly
with 155 votes in favor, 3 against and 42 blank. Marzouki is
a trained medical doctor and in 1993 founded a human rights
organization in protest against the Ben Ali regime's attack
on the opposition. In 2001, he formed a political party,
which was immediately banned. Marzouki went into exile in
France and only returned in 2011 after Ben Ali's departure.
Immediately after his accession, President Hamadi Jebali
from Ennahda appointed to the post of Prime Minister.
In May 2012, the Justice Department dismissed 82 judges
and accused them of corruption. Nine of them were probably
reinstated in their posts 1 month later, but in September,
the Supreme Judicial Council removed or moved 700 judges.
The Judicial Council lived its own life when the
Constitutional Assembly could not agree to replace the
remnants of Ben Ali's time with a transitional council. Not
until April 2013 did the Assembly appoint a Supreme Counsel
to appoint, promote, transfer and discipline the nation's
judges - pending a new constitution.