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Monday, January 17, 2011

Turmoil in Tunisia

One of the the biggest stories of the week is the ongoing turmoil in Tunisia where anarchy and rioting lead to the ousting of President Ben Ali who has fleed the country and is now taking refuge in Saudi Arabia. Close aids including the man in charge of his security are now being detained accused of formenting violence.

The constitutional authority has declared a presidential election must be held within sixty days. In the interim the speaker of the parliament has now be sworn in as president. However the presidency had been originally claimed by the Prime Minister which has created a degree of uncertainty in the country. Indeed the very success of the popular uprising is somewhat under threat as the military moves swiftly in order to try the stem the violence analysts are wondering if a coup is possible. A fire brock out at a jail over the weekend klling 42 inmates while at another facility a mass jail break of over 1,000 people occured.
So what spurred the Tunisian people into action. A combination of systemic corruption, a ban on any criticism of the regime, soaring unemployment and poor unemployment. However,the final straw for the Tunisian people came when an unemployed college graduate in Tunis has his fruit cart confiscated, his only source of income. He then set himself on fire.  There are now fears among Governments across Africa that such violent uprisings may spread. Already three people in Algeria have been seen setting themselves on fire, a similar case occurred in Mauritania.

Protests are continuing today with 2,000 people packing themselves into central Tunisia where police opened fire with tear gas. There were however, reports of many peaceful protests across the country. The opposition powers are expected to announce a new government today. The Prime Minnister stated Sunday, "Tommorrow we will announce the new Government which will open a new page in the history of Tunisia". Whether or not the new Government is capable of bringing about the necessary reforms remains to be seen.

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