Si la vida te regala limones, pide sal & tequila (lemonsalt) wrote in ontd_political,
Si la vida te regala limones, pide sal & tequila

Tunisia: now what?

Now what?
Putting the country back together

“WE’VE become so preoccupied by Egypt’s revolution that we’re neglecting our own,” runs the joke in Tunis these days. Tunisians feel proud that their spark has ignited a regional upheaval. Yet more than three weeks after the departure of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali for Saudi Arabia, the situation in Tunisia has still not stabilised.

Although the government is now rid of most ministers from the former ruling party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), Mohammed Ghannouchi, the prime minister, remains. He has just appointed 24 provincial governors, 19 of whom are former members of the RCD. Across the country, civil servants and citizens have protested loudly about this. In several cases, they have prevented the new governors from taking up their jobs.

Even the functionaries at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have staged a sit-in, claiming that Tunisia’s new foreign minister, Ahmed Ounaies, does not represent the post-revolutionary mood. At state-run companies and institutions, directors are being forced out for being too close to the RCD.

Attempts are being made to calm things down, however. The Tunisian Senate has just granted the interim president, Fouad Mebazaa, wide powers to restore order, including making laws by decree. On February 7th the Ministry of Interior suspended the RCD, to which around a fifth of Tunisia’s people belong. A new version of it may be constructed by Kamel Morjane, until recently a party leader and Mr Ben Ali’s foreign minister. Meanwhile, politicians of all stripes—including Tunisia’s historic Islamist movement, Ennahda, banned under Mr Ben Ali—are trying to found parties or revive dormant ones.

A more urgent problem is the economy. After six weeks of chaos, Mr Ghannouchi reckons damage to tourism, output and exports at $5 billion-8 billion, or 12-20% of Tunisia’s GDP. Citizens are shouting for handouts outside welfare offices, and strikes are spreading. Britain has promised financial aid, and a group of visiting Euro-MPs thinks the European Union should do the same. There is even talk of a “Marshall Plan” for the southern Mediterranean to help countries going through political upheavals. Only a few months ago the same officials were keeping quiet about human-rights abuses under Mr Ben Ali’s regime. But that was then.

Tags: revolution / uprising, tunisia

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