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Watunisia wapinga washiriki wa Ben Ali kuunda serikali ya mpito..................

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Rutashubanyuma, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Africa
    Tunisians sceptical of new cabinet
    Dissatisfaction over inclusion of ruling party members in new 'national unity' government.

    Last Modified: 18 Jan 2011 10:33 GMT





    [​IMG] The new 'national unity' government includes several members of the incumbent party [Reuters] The announcement of a new 'unity government' by Mohamed Ghannouchi, the Tunisian prime minister, has been met with anger by some protesters, who say too many members of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's party remain in power.
    The PM announced that the former defence, foreign, interior and finance ministers will keep their key posts in the new government formed after the public uprising led to the flight of President Ben Ali.
    Up to 1,000 protesters gathered mainly near Tunis' Habib Bourguiba Avenue to demonstrate against the announcement.
    Tanks and troops were deployed, and water cannons and tear gas fired against activists who demanded that members of Ben Ali's Constitutional Democratic Rally (CDR) be excluded from the new government.
    "Who did the revolt? It's the people, those trade union leaders ... they need to find their aspirations in the government. This government does not answer those aspirations," Masoud Ramadani, a workers union activist, told Al Jazeera.
    Al Jazeera's correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin said protesters were "rejecting the possibility that any incoming or caretaker or national unity government could possibly have figures or leaders from the previous regime".
    "They want the CDR party completely abolished, completely removed from any form of government".
    Members of the interim government have defended its composition, however, saying that the members of the incumbent party who have been retained are not politicians.
    "Members of the ruling party that are in the government are technocratic, they are not political. And we demanded that people who are dirty in corruption and crimes should be evacuated from this government," Ahmed Bouazzi, a member of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), said.

    Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra identified the lack of a coherent opposition as "one of the biggest problems that Tunisia faces for the time being".
    He said there were no "charismatic leaders" who could "channel the energy" from the uprising towards the formation of a new government.
    In part, this is because "Ben Ali tailored the whole state around his persona. The police, the parliament, everything was linked to him", our correspondent said.
    Furthermore, the opposition has been clamped down on for nearly three decades, with most of its leadership either "driven out of the country, or [spending] many years in jail".
    "This is the big question. Who is going to take over, who is going to lead Tunisia into the future?"
    Interim government
    Ghannouchi announced the country's new interim government on Monday, adding that a number of opposition members will be assigned to ministerial posts.
    The prime minister named Najib Chebbi, founder of the PDP, which opposed Ben Ali, as minister for regional development.
    Ahmed Ibrahim, leader of the Ettajdid party, was named minister of higher education and Mustafa Ben Jaafar, head of the Union of Freedom and Labour, got the health portfolio.
    Significantly, there will be a separation of the state from political parties, meaning that under the coalition government, the collection of parties will not fall under the control of a ruling party.
    Opposition's limited role
    One of Tunisia's best known opposition figures, Moncef Marzouki, on Monday branded his country's new government a "masquerade" still dominated by supporters of ousted strongman Ben Ali.
    "Tunisia deserved much more," the secular leftist declared. "Ninety dead, four weeks of real revolution, only for it to come to this? A unity government in name only because, in reality, it is made up of members of the party of dictatorship, the CRD,"said Marzouki on France's I-Tele.
    According to Ahmed Friaa, Tunisia's interior minister, 78 people have been killed in the country during the recent turmoil, almost quadrupling the official death toll. He also estimated that the unrest had cost the country's economy $2.2 bn as a result of disruption of economic activity and lost export revenues.
    Rachid al-Ghannouchi (no relation to Mohamed Ghannouchi), the exiled leader of the Nahdha Movement party, told London-based Asharq Alawsat newspaper that leaders of his party had not been invited to participate in the negotiations in forming the new unity government.
    He expressed anger at the exclusion, but said his party would consider joining the government if asked to do so.
    Meanwhile Ban Ki-Moon, UN secretary general, called for the establishment of the rule of law in Tunisia, while the Arab League said Arab states should consider what lessons could be learnt from the crisis.
    Reforms announced
    Ghannouchi also announced on Monday that the Tunisian government will investigate anyone suspected of corruption or of having amassed huge wealth under the country's deposed leader.
    "Anyone who accumulated enormous wealth or is suspected of corruption will be put before a committee of investigators," said Ghannouchi.
    He also said that there will be "total freedom" for the media in the country, which experienced especially tough crackdowns during the recent weeks of unrest.
    Additionally, the prime minister said that a ban on the activities of human rights groups in Tunisia will be lifted and that all political prisoners would be freed.
    "We have decided to free all the people imprisoned for their ideas, their beliefs or for having expressed dissenting opinions," said Ghannouchi.

    Source:
    Al Jazeera and agencies
     
  2. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Hawa washiriki wa Ben Ali ni watu wa ajabu sana hivi hawajui ya kuwa samaki mmoja akioza wote wameoza?????????
     
  3. M

    MsandoAlberto JF-Expert Member

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    Ruta, I have gone through the information. My wish is for members to have dwelt on a discussion! For some reason no one has. I posted a similar post in rhetorical terms 'serikali ya umoja wa kitaifa: chadema ndio wanataka' but those who took interest on that were decimal! But i still feel we need to look into that. Soon or later it may be us!
     
  4. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    More Officials Quit in Tunisia Amid Protests

    [​IMG] Fred Dufour/Agence France-Presse - Getty Images
    A man struggled after being injured during a protest in Tunis on Tuesday. Police officers clashed with demonstrators demanding more change in the government.

    By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and KAREEM FAHIM

    Published: January 18, 2011





    TUNIS - The new unity government of Tunisia tottered Tuesday as at least four cabinet members resigned after street protests erupted over its continued domination by members of the ruling party of the ousted dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

    Related










    [​IMG]
    Fethi Belaid/Agence France-Presse - Getty Images

    Protesters clashed with Tunisian security officers in Tunis on Tuesday.


    Readers' Comments

    Share your thoughts.


    The resignations compounded the pressure on Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, previously the right-hand man to Mr. Ben Ali, to resign as well.
    As the evening curfew approached in Tunis, the new government, backed by the military and a tiny group of recognized opposition leaders, seemed caught in a war on two fronts. On one side were Mr. Ben Ali's former security forces, which the government has accused of continued acts of violence.
    On the other it was battling to hold the loyalties of grass-roots protesters in the streets, who demanded a faster and more radical purge of the old government. "You sympathize with the current government," one woman shouted, expressing a common sentiment. "How are you supposed to represent the people?"
    Some opposition leaders expressed fears that a collapse of the interim coalition - it would be the third rapid-fire turnover of power within less than a week - could trigger a military takeover. Yet, as the police moved forcefully to break up the demonstrations, many protesters said they thought they had much more to fear from the former ruling party, R.C.D., than they did from the Tunisian military, a traditionally apolitical force.
    There was also a looming wild card: the revival of the banned Islamist party. The government said that for now it would continue to block the return of the party's exiled founder, while he repeated that his party espouses a moderate pluralism.
    Many Tunisians said they were waiting - some hopefully, some anxiously - to see what kind of rebirth the once-flourishing but long-outlawed Islamist political party might have. In a radio interview, Prime Minister Ghannouchi said that the exiled leader, Rached Ghannouchi - no relation - would be banned from the country until the government passed an amnesty law lifting a conviction he was given in absentia under the Ben Ali government.
    The exiled leader, meanwhile, made clear that his party envisioned a society far more liberal and open than Iran or Saudi Arabia. In an interview with The Financial Times, Rached Ghannouchi said his party had signed a shared statement of principles with the other Tunisian opposition groups that included freedom of expression, freedom of association and women's rights.
    It remained unclear how much support he commands in the country. Some argued that Tunisian society today was too resolutely secular for the Islamists to find much support, after two decades of efforts by Mr. Ben Ali's vast secret police to eliminate the party and cripple it.
    "They have people who are 50 years old or 60 years old, but they don't have anybody under 40 because of the repression," said Ahmed Bouazzi, an executive committee member of the largest opposition group, the Progressive Democratic Party.
    Others, however, argued that the religious convictions of Tunisians would assure the Islamic parties a strong base of support, especially away from the more cosmopolitan coasts. "Look, they will be easily the most popular party," said one analyst who opposes the Islamists, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering family and friends. "No one can say anything against anything that is Islamic."
    Mr. Bouazzi of the Progressive Democratic Party said that over the last three days the military had helped to arrest about half of the 7,000 officers who made up Mr. Ben Ali's personal security force, who the government says has perpetuated violence since his flight. "They charged them with felonies and killings and so on," Mr. Bouazzi said.
    Adding to the complexity of the political situation, the composition of the crowd in the street protests seemed to be changing. In stark contrast to the relatively affluent group that turned out to demand Mr. Ben Ali's resignation last Friday -many of them joining the protests for the first time - a more determined core took to the streets of the capital Tuesday. They held their ground against the clubs of charging motorcycle police officers, hurling canisters of tear gas back at the officers before regrouping to return again and again for hours until the evening curfew loomed.
    Among them were students, trade unionists and supporters of the outlawed Islamist party.

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  5. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    More Officials Quit in Tunisia Amid Protests

    [​IMG] Fred Dufour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
    A man struggled after being injured during a protest in Tunis on Tuesday. Police officers clashed with demonstrators demanding more change in the government.

    By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and KAREEM FAHIM

    Published: January 18, 2011


    TUNIS — The new unity government of Tunisia tottered Tuesday as at least four cabinet members resigned after street protests erupted over its continued domination by members of the ruling party of the ousted dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

    Related










    [​IMG]
    Fethi Belaid/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Protesters clashed with Tunisian security officers in Tunis on Tuesday.


    Readers' Comments
    Share your thoughts.


    The resignations compounded the pressure on Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, previously the right-hand man to Mr. Ben Ali, to resign as well.
    As the evening curfew approached in Tunis, the new government, backed by the military and a tiny group of recognized opposition leaders, seemed caught in a war on two fronts. On one side were Mr. Ben Ali’s former security forces, which the government has accused of continued acts of violence.
    On the other it was battling to hold the loyalties of grass-roots protesters in the streets, who demanded a faster and more radical purge of the old government. “You sympathize with the current government,” one woman shouted, expressing a common sentiment. “How are you supposed to represent the people?”
    Some opposition leaders expressed fears that a collapse of the interim coalition — it would be the third rapid-fire turnover of power within less than a week — could trigger a military takeover. Yet, as the police moved forcefully to break up the demonstrations, many protesters said they thought they had much more to fear from the former ruling party, R.C.D., than they did from the Tunisian military, a traditionally apolitical force.
    There was also a looming wild card: the revival of the banned Islamist party. The government said that for now it would continue to block the return of the party’s exiled founder, while he repeated that his party espouses a moderate pluralism.
    Many Tunisians said they were waiting — some hopefully, some anxiously — to see what kind of rebirth the once-flourishing but long-outlawed Islamist political party might have. In a radio interview, Prime Minister Ghannouchi said that the exiled leader, Rached Ghannouchi — no relation — would be banned from the country until the government passed an amnesty law lifting a conviction he was given in absentia under the Ben Ali government.
    The exiled leader, meanwhile, made clear that his party envisioned a society far more liberal and open than Iran or Saudi Arabia. In an interview with The Financial Times, Rached Ghannouchi said his party had signed a shared statement of principles with the other Tunisian opposition groups that included freedom of expression, freedom of association and women’s rights.
    It remained unclear how much support he commands in the country. Some argued that Tunisian society today was too resolutely secular for the Islamists to find much support, after two decades of efforts by Mr. Ben Ali’s vast secret police to eliminate the party and cripple it.
    “They have people who are 50 years old or 60 years old, but they don’t have anybody under 40 because of the repression,” said Ahmed Bouazzi, an executive committee member of the largest opposition group, the Progressive Democratic Party.
    Others, however, argued that the religious convictions of Tunisians would assure the Islamic parties a strong base of support, especially away from the more cosmopolitan coasts. “Look, they will be easily the most popular party,” said one analyst who opposes the Islamists, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering family and friends. “No one can say anything against anything that is Islamic.”
    Mr. Bouazzi of the Progressive Democratic Party said that over the last three days the military had helped to arrest about half of the 7,000 officers who made up Mr. Ben Ali’s personal security force, who the government says has perpetuated violence since his flight. “They charged them with felonies and killings and so on,” Mr. Bouazzi said.
    Adding to the complexity of the political situation, the composition of the crowd in the street protests seemed to be changing. In stark contrast to the relatively affluent group that turned out to demand Mr. Ben Ali’s resignation last Friday —many of them joining the protests for the first time — a more determined core took to the streets of the capital Tuesday. They held their ground against the clubs of charging motorcycle police officers, hurling canisters of tear gas back at the officers before regrouping to return again and again for hours until the evening curfew loomed.
    Among them were students, trade unionists and supporters of the outlawed Islamist party.

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  6. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Tunisia PM tries to save cabinet
    After opposition members resign and more threaten to do so, Ghannouchi is expected to make concessions.

    Last Modified: 19 Jan 2011 09:09 GMT




    [​IMG] Opposition politicians Mustapha Ben Jaafar (R) and Ahmed Brahim (L) met with Ghannouchi on Monday [AFP] A day after four opposition ministers resigned or suspended their posts, Mohamed Ghannouchi, the Tunisian prime minister, has called for a meeting to try to salvage his fracturing "unity" cabinet.
    It is unclear how many ministers in the 40-member cabinet will attend the meeting, set to take place on Wednesday afternoon amid continued street protests, but Ghannouchi is expected to make changes to appease an opposition that remains discontent.
    Three members of a major Tunisian opposition party resigned from the cabinet and one suspended his participation on Tuesday less than 24 hours after Ghannouchi announced the makeup of the first Tunisian cabinet to follow the ouster of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
    All four came from the country's Democratic Forum for Labour and Unity party. The three who resigned were: Anouar Ben Gueddour, the junior minister for transportation and equipment; Houssine Dimassi, minister of labour; and Abdeljelil Bedoui, who was given the newly created post of "minister to the prime minister".
    Mustapha Ben Jaafar, the secretary general of the party, said he was suspending his participation in the government as minister of health.
    Cracks within ruling party
    The resignations were not the only bump in the road; also on Tuesday, Ghannouchi and Fouad Mebazaa, the interim president, both resigned from the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), Ben Ali's party.

    Ghannouchi and Mebazaa were forced into the move after the opposition ministers refused to sit in a cabinet that contained eight high-ranking members of Ben Ali's government, which many Tunisians see as corrupt.

    "They do not want to be in the government with certain members of the ruling party," Al Jazeera's Nazinine Moshiri said, reporting from Tunis.
    Multiple resignations
    The government has been in a state of limbo since the resignations on Tuesday.
    [​IMG]
    Abid al-Briki, a representative of the UGTT union, said the union wanted to see all ministers from Ben Ali's cabinet pushed out of the new government, but it would make an exception for the prime minister.
    "This is in response to the demands of people on the streets," Briki said.
    The opposition Ettajdid party said it will also pull out of the coalition if ministers from Ben Ali's RCD do not give up party membership and return to the state all properties they obtained through the RCD, state television said.

    Ghannouchi, who has been prime minister since 1999, said that ministers from Ben Ali's party were included in the new government "because we need them in this phase."

    In an interview with France's Europe-1 radio, he insisted the ministers chosen "have clean hands, in addition to great competence."

    "Give us a chance so that we can put in place this ambitious programme of reform," he said.

    It was not immediately clear if the resignations could bring down the government, which has 40 full and junior ministers.

    'Sham' government

    The announcement of the new government was also met with anger by some of the Tunisian public.

    "The new government is a sham. It's an insult to the revolution that claimed lives and blood," Ahmed al-Haji, a student, said.

    Police used tear gas in an attempt to break up several hundred opposition supporters and trade union activists gathered in Tunis.

    Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, told Al Jazeera that it's clear that Ghannouchi made an error in reappointing so many ministers from Ben Ali's government.

    "If you see what happened on the Tunisian streets today, the people who came out rejected the idea that the same old faces are going to still run the country," Hounshell said.

    "I think it remains to be seen whether this new government will even be able to stand and hold these elections in 60 days, as they're required to."

    'Parasite' party
    Meanwhile, Moncek Marzouki, a Tunisian political leader returned from more than 20 years of exile in France to a joyful reception from supporters at Tunis' airport.
    Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reported that Marzouki, a 65-year-old medical doctor and human rights activist, was met by a crowd of his supporters.
    Marzouki told them that he would ask Saudi Arabia to hand over Ben Ali (who has sought refuge there since Friday) who has to be prosecuted in Tunisia for "crimes committed against the people of Tunisia".
    He also urged fellow Tunisians to hold firm in their efforts to bring down the RCD.

    Marzouki called the ruling RCD a "parasite of the country".

    "It's a government that isn't one, they have to leave," he said.


    Source:
    Al Jazeera and agencies
     
  7. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    US assessed successors in Tunisia
    A 2006 diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks assessed end of ex-president Ben Ali's reign and suggested he has cancer.

    Evan Hill Last Modified: 18 Jan 2011 14:14 GMT





    [​IMG] The US was guessing at potential Ben Ali successors in 2006 but apparently did not foresee a popular uprising [AFP] The United States was preparing for the end of former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and assessing his potential successors as early as January 2006, a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks has revealed.
    The cable from the US embassy in Tunisia, published by WikiLeaks on Monday,also says that Ben Ali is rumoured to have suffered from prostate cancer since 2003.
    None of the five possible successors identified by the US embassy in Tunisia, including current prime minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, was likely to change Tunisia's policy or its relationship with the United States quickly, the cable said.
    The excited talk of a "post-Ben Ali era," however, was muted in a series of four cables written five months later and also recently released by WikiLeaks. They mention only that Ben Ali had referred to himself as a future "'retired' president," with no departure timeline. The third cable in the series only noted a potential transition to a new government as something that would further benefit Ben Ali's family.
    An unpredicted uprising
    Ben Ali became president in a bloodless 1987 coup but was forced out of office on Friday after trying to weather a month of protests over unemployment and repressed civil liberties that began with a 26-year-old university graduate setting himself on fire in December.
    The US government has remained relatively quiet in its public statements and actions during the uprising, though president Barack Obama did issue a statement on Friday - after Ben Ali had fled - saying that the White House was "bearing witness to this brave and determined struggle for the universal rights we must all uphold" and that Tunisia should hold "free and fair elections in the near future."
    It's unclear if the uprising caught the United States by surprise, but the 2006 cable makes no mention of any possibility that the long-time ruler could be overthrown by a social movement or that his power was built on anything but solid "dictatorial" grounds.
    "The mere fact that an increasing number of Tunisians are talking about succession and the end of the Ben Ali era is remarkable," ambassador William Hudson wrote.
    Despite the unpredicted social movement, the cable seems to have been accurate in one major respect: The potential successor deemed likeliest by Hudson, prime minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, remains in office and has been wielding increased power since Ben Ali's departure. If the cable's assessment is to be believed, this doesn't bode well for Tunisia's democratic protesters.
    "None of the options suggest Tunisia will become more democratic, but the US-Tunisian bilateral relationship is likely to remain unaffected by the departure of Ben Ali," Hudson wrote.
    The 'career technocrat' vs. the 'eminence grise'
    The cable identifies five probable successors, including Ben Ali's wife, Leila, and Ghannouchi, who briefly took over the role of president after Ben Ali left.
    In Hudson's assessment, Ghannouchi appears as the most likely successor: a "career technocrat and trained economist" who is well-liked and respected, even among average Tunisians.
    Shortly after Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on Friday night, Ghannouchi went on state television to announce that he was assuming the duties of president, though such a move appears to have contradicted the Tunisian constitution.
    Within 24 hours, after a ruling from the Constitutional Council, Ghannouchi ceded power to parliament speaker Fouad Mebazaa, though he still remains in charge of forming a unity government.
    Ghannouchi's strongest competition for the top job, as described by Hudson, is Abdelaziz Ben Dhia, who served as Ben Ali's minister of state, special adviser and spokesman until being dismissed on Thursday in Ben Ali's last-ditch effort to placate the public and save his presidency.
    Ben Dhia's long history of service and the good favour he enjoyed with both Ben Ali and his wife made him a likely candidate, though his age - he is currently 75 - meant that he would've been barred from running in the 2014 presidential election, Hudson wrote.
    But Ben Dhia was also hurt by his reputation as an "'eminence grise' - the brilliant behind-the-scenes decision-maker in the palace" - a man whose secretive responsibilities caused "consternation" among average Tunisians, Hudson said.
    More of the same
    Analysing the scenarios in light of Ben Ali's possible prostate cancer, the embassy predicted that if Ben Ali were incapacitated or left office, Mebazaa's principal task as the interim president would be to organise elections and "maintain the party's hold on power."
    "Mebazaa is a long-time ruling RCD party stalwart (a member of the RCD politburo, a former minister, and a 'survivor')," the cable states. (Mebazaa served under Tunisia's first president, Habib Bourguiba, who was overthrown by Ben Ali.)
    Under the current constitution, the RCD also enjoys a comfortable advantage in politics. Those who want to run for president must belong to a party with at least one member in parliament and obtain signatures of support from 30 deputies or mayors.
    "It is most likely that the next president would come from within the RCD given its history as Tunisia's founding party, its grass roots structure, and its interest in stability and continuity," the cable says.
    None of the potential successors mentioned in the cable - including current foreign minister Kamel Morjane and Ali Chaouch, the minister of social affairs, solidarity, and Tunisians abroad - would likely make any significant changes to domestic or foreign policy, the cable states.
    Morjane, who worked at the United Nations before being appointed defence minister in 2005, once had US support to be the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the cable notes.
    Morjane "has been helpful as minister," it says. "However, we know little about his personal politics or ambitions."

     
  8. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    [​IMG]'The Family' Tunisians hate most
    Central bank denies that ousted leader's wife took tonnes of gold out of the country when they fled.

    Last Modified: 18 Jan 2011 09:55 GMT

    i





    [​IMG] After Ben Ali and his family fled the country, some of their homes and properties were ransacked and burnt [Reuters] Tunisia's central bank has denied a report that relatives of the ousted leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country with 1.5 tonnes in gold.
    The gold would fetch $65m in the open market at Monday's prices.
    France's Le Monde newspaper reported on Monday that president Nicolas Sarkozy's office was briefed by French intelligence that Leila Trabelsi, Ben Ali's second wife, withdrew gold ingots from the Tunisian central bank last week.
    The governor initially resisted her request, but backed down under pressure from Ben Ali himself, the report said.
    An official at the bank in Tunis told the AFP news agency that the "gold reserves of the central bank of Tunisia have not been touched in recent days".
    "Neither have the cash reserves. The country has very strict regulations," the unnamed official said.
    The end of president Ben Ali's 23-year rule brought joy to many ordinary people, who were especially elated at the prospect of life without his wife and her notorious family.
    Gold-digger?
    The family of former first lady Leila Trabelsi, a one-time hairdresser who rose to become Tunisia's most influential woman, was widely despised as the ultimate symbol of corruption and excess.
    [​IMG]
    Trabelsi and her 10 siblings are reported to have operated like a mafia, extorting money from shop owners, demanding a stake in businesses large and small, and divvying up plum concessions among themselves.
    Their control over the North African country's economy was vast.
    The Trabelsi and Ben Ali's own families were said to have a stake in Tunisian banks and airlines, car dealerships, Internet providers, radio and television stations, industry and big retailers.
    And when mass protests forced Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia, the peoples' pent-up rage was directed more at Leila's side of the family than at her husband and his authoritarian government.
    Retribution was swift.
    Within a day of Ben Ali's departure, many of the villas and businesses belonging to the Trabelsis were pillaged and burned, and some reports said one prominent family member was killed by an angry mob.
    A branch of the Zeitouna bank in Tunis founded by Ben Ali's son-in-law was torched, as were vehicles made by the car brands he distributed, including Kia, Fiat and Porsche.
    "They (the Trabelsis) are thieves, tricksters and even killers," Mantasser Ben Mabrouk, a Tunis resident, said.
    "Their only goal was to make money in whatever way they could."
    'Absolutely capital' role
    US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks appear to back up that allegation.
    A June 2008 cable from the US Embassy in Tunis describes a report by anti-corruption group Transparency International saying: "Whether it's cash, services, land, property ... President Ben Ali's family is rumoured to covet it and reportedly gets what it wants."
    The economic fallout of the Trabelsis' web of corruption and influence-mongering was palpable, the cable said, with "Tunisian investors - fearing the long-arm of 'the Family' - forgoing new investments, keeping domestic investment rates low and unemployment high."
    A lack of jobs in this highly educated nation fuelled the month of popular protests that toppled Ben Ali.
    The co-author of a book on Leila Trabelsi, "La Regente de Carthage," said that the Trabelsis played an "absolutely capital" role in the fall of the regime.
    "Tunisians were absolutely aware of what they were up to and they got to a point where they were sick and tired of their behaviour," said author Catherine Graciet.
    Still, she noted that "we can't put all the blame on the Trabelsis, because it was Ben Ali himself who allowed them to act that way."
    Trabelsi married Ben Ali in 1992, five years after the bloodless palace coup in which he replaced ageing independence hero Habib Bourguiba as president.
    The marriage - which was also Ben Ali's second - catapulted the once-modest Trabelsi clan to national prominence.
    Her oldest brother, Belhassen, known as the clan chieftain, is said to have ruled over the family's many mafia-style rackets.
    Family attacked
    Her nephew, Imed Trabelsi, was reputed to be the spoilt brat of the family and the former first lady's favourite, according to the book.
    Known as a playboy, he enjoyed a jet-set lifestyle, complete with a garage full of sports cars and yachts.
    French prosecutors suspected him and another of Leila Trabelsi's nephews of having ordered the 2006 theft of a yacht belonging to a French investment banker that turned up in the Tunisian port of Sidi Bou Said.
    He was reported to have been stabbed by a fisherman in the town where he was mayor, an upscale coastal town near the capital, and died from his wounds at a Tunis military hospital over the weekend.
    The whereabouts of all family members was unclear.
    France, which ruled Tunisia as a protectorate until it won independence in 1956, said some Ben Ali relatives were in France but they were "not welcome" to stay.
    Media reports had them at a hotel near the Disneyland Paris resort.
    Asset freeze
    French government spokesman Francois Baroin also said France had taken "the necessary steps" to block any suspicious movement of Tunisian assets linked to Ben Ali and his entourage that might be squirrelled away in France.
    Meanwhile, a Swiss lawyer filed a request to freeze any assets held by Ben Ali in Switzerland.
    Ridha Ajmi told the AFP news agency that he also asked for international arrest warrants against Ben Ali, his wife Leila Trabelsi and former interior minister Rafik Bel Hadji Kacem, claiming they had been involved in ordering police to open fire on protestors.
    "We are asking for a criminal inquiry to determine whether or not funds that belong to the Tunisian people have been diverted... to private accounts or companies."
    He also confirmed a formal request for an arrest warrant, saying that "about 100 Tunisian people died including a Swiss citizen".
    A government spokesman told AFP that it was keeping watch on the situation and that "no decision has been taken on this matter".
     
  9. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

    #9
    Jan 19, 2011
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    Tunisia: How the US got it wrong
    The events in Tunisia again show how US foreign policy in the Middle East fails to fully understand the region.

    Mark LeVine Last Modified: 16 Jan 2011 15:10 GMT





    [​IMG] Recently in Doha, Secretary of State Clinton spoke of regimes whose "foundations are sinking into the sand" and who will disappear unless "reform" occurs. Ironically, the same regimes who have been historically backed by the US [EPA] One sign read "Game Over". But in fact, the game has barely started.

    The Facebook generation has taken to the streets and the "Jasmin Revolt" has become a revolution, at least as of the time of writing. And the flight of former President Ben Ali to Saudi Arabia is inspiring people across the Arab world to take to the streets and warn their own sclerotic and autocratic leaders that they could soon face a similar fate.

    As the French paper Le Monde described it, scenes that were "unimaginable only days ago" are now occurring with dizzying speed. Already, in Egypt, Egyptians celebrate and show solidarity over Tunisia's collapse, chanting "Kefaya" and "We are next, we are next, Ben Ali tell Mubarak he is next." Protests in Algeria and Jordan could easily expand thanks to the inspiration of the tens of thousands of Tunisians, young and old, working and middle class, who toppled one of the world's most entrenched dictators. Arab bloggers are hailing what has happened in Tunisia as "the African revolution commencing... the global anti-capitalist revolution."
    The birth of a human nationalism?
    Around the turn of the new millennium, as the Arab world engaged in an intense debate over the nature of the emerging globalised system, one critic in the newspaper al-Nahar declared that an "inhuman globalisation" has been imposed on the Arab world when its peoples have yet even to be allowed to develop a "human" nationalism. Such a dynamic well describes the history of Tunisia, and most other countries in the Arab/Muslim world as well.

    And so, if the people of Tunisia are lucky, they are in the midst of midwifing the Arab world's first human nationalism, taking control of their politics, economy and identity away from foreign interests and local elites alike in a manner that has not been seen in more than half a century.

    But the way is still extremely treacherous. As a member of the Tajdid opposition party told the Guardian, "Totalitarianism and despotism aren't dead. The state is still polluted by that political system, the ancient regime and its symbols which have been in place for 55 years."

    Indeed, the problem with most post-colonial nationalisms - whether that of the first generation of independence leaders or of the leaders who replaced (often by overthrowing) them - is precisely that they have always remained infected with the virus of greed, corruption and violence so entrenched by decades of European colonial rule. Tunisia's nascent revolution will only succeed if it can finally repair the damage caused by French rule and the post-independence regime that in so many ways continued to serve European and American - rather than Tunisian - interests.
    A region's tipping point
    The stakes could not be higher. The "Tunisian Scenario" could lead either to a greater democratic opening across the Arab world, or it could lead to the situation in Algeria in the early 1990s, where democratisation was abruptly halted and the country plunged into civil war when it seemed that an Islamist government might come to power. We can be sure that leaders across the Arab world are busy planning how to stymie any attempts by their people to emulate the actions of Tunisia's brave citizenry. But at this moment of such great historical consequence what is the US doing about the situation?

    The timing couldn't have been more fortuitous, as Secretary of State Clinton was in the Middle East meeting with Arab political and civil society leaders at the moment events took their fateful turn. Yet when asked directly about the protests the day before Ben Ali fled her answer said volumes about the mentality of the Obama administration and the larger US and European foreign policy establishments to the unfolding situation.

    "We can't take sides."
    A more tone deaf response would have been hard to imagine. This was a moment when the Obama administration could have seized the reins of history and helped usher in a new era in the Arab/Muslim world world. In so doing it could have done more to defeat the forces of extremism than a million soldiers in AfPak and even more drone strikes could ever hope to accomplish. And Mrs. Clinton declared America's attention to remain on the sideline.
    Obama's Reagan moment
    Can we imagine that President Reagan, for whom Obama has declared his admiration, refusing to take sides as young people began dismantling the Iron Curtain? Indeed, even when freedom seemed a distant dream, Reagan went to Berlin and challenged Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!"

    It's not as if the Obama administration doesn't understand what kind of regime it was dealing with in Tunisia. As the now infamous WikiLeaks cable from the US Ambassador in Tunis to his superiors in Washington made clear, "By many measures, Tunisia should be a close US ally. But it is not." Why? "The problem is clear: Tunisia has been ruled by the same president for 22 years."

    Indeed, WikiLeaks did Clinton and Obama's job: It told the truth, and in doing so was a catalyst for significant change in the country - yet another example of how the release of all those classified documents has helped, rather than harmed, American interests (or at least the interests of the American people, if not its political and economic elite), even if the Obama administration refuses to admit it.
    What is clear is that if the massacre in Tuscon last week might have provided Obama with his "Clinton moment", as he eloquently led the country on the path towards unity and healing, the Jasmin Revolution has handed him his Reagan moment. Obama needs to stop playing catch up to events, lay aside hesitation and throw his support behind radical change in the region, behind young people across the Middle East and North Africa who could topple the regimes who have done more to increase terrorism that Osama bin Laden could dream of accomplishing.
    Decades of support despite repression
    The US has understood and even welcomed this very dynamic in Tunisia for the last half century. A 1963 Congressional report on "US Foreign Aid to 10 Middle Eastern and African Countries" stated positively about Tunisia that "Tunisia has been known for its internal political stability and unity... This fact, unique in a ME country, can be explained by the existence of an unopposed single-party rule... Under the vigorous leadership of President Bourguiba, Tunisia offers a favourable and stable political climate, progressive in its outlook, in which to bring about economic development. US aid should be continued at the same or higher level," the report advised.
    In recent years the US position has been little different. The Tunisian regime was supported by the United States because it was secular, cooperated on the "War on Terror" and followed, at least on the surface, liberal economic reforms. And European support for Ben Ali was even stronger, with successive French governments openly declaring their preference for stability and cooperation against illegal immigration and the threat of terror to supporting the kind of democratic transformation that would have gone much farther to securing those goals.

    During the Bush administration, then Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick rebuffed attempts by local journalists to get him to admit to a double standard in calling for human rights without actually supporting them in countries like Tunisia and Egypt. The Bush administration supported draconian anti-terrorism laws that were clearly used to repress any opposition to the regime.

    Today, Clinton declares that in fact the US doesn't have much power in the region. "We can't force people to do what we want," she explained in Doha at the Forum of the Future earlier this week, emphasising reforms that were focused far more on "economic empowerment, rather than political change," according to the Washington Post. Clinton never even mentioned the word democracy in her prepared remarks, or human rights for that matter.

    And while she preached the gospel of reform and civil society, Clinton praised the record of another despotic regime, Bahrain, whose foreign minister participated in the forum with her. This even though the country's record of censorship and political repression lags little behind Tunisia's, if at all, as the annual Human Rights Reports of Clinton's State Department clearly show.
    Taking history's reins
    The WikiLeaks cable that by many accounts helped encourage the protests that have now toppled the Ben Ali regime had the virtue of being honest, as it explained that the incredibly deep and endemic corruption up through the very top of a regime that had completely "lost ouch with the Tunisian people" produced an untenable situation.
    It's clear, then, that the US understood the problems plaguing Tunisia, so why didn't Clinton speak as openly as her ambassador in Tunis? Imagine what support she would have gotten from the people of Tunisia if she only stated what everyone already knew? If at the very least she had, as her ambassador urged in the then classified communique, declared America's intent to "keep a strong focus on democratic reform and respect for human rights," words that the US would not utter directly and openly until Ben Ali had fled the country.
    The question now is, does Obama have the courage, the "audacity", to use one of his favourite words, to seize the moment?

    Once Ben Ali had fled the country, the President did salute "brave and determined struggle for the universal rights", applauded "the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people", and called on the Tunisian government "to respect human rights, and to hold free and fair elections in the near future that reflect the true will and aspirations of the Tunisian people".

    But unless there is a stick behind this call, there is every reason to believe, as so many Tunisians and other commentators worry, that the country's corrupt and still powerful elite will find a way to remain entrenched in power once the situation calms down. Indeed, Obama's call to "maintain calm" is counter productive. While violence is of course deplorable, the worst thing for Tunisians to do would be to remain calm, to tone down their protests and leave the streets.
    Now is the time for Tunisians to ensure that the revolution that is just sprouting is not cut off or co-opted. The protests need to continue and even expand until the foundations of the regime are uprooted and other senior officials removed from power and sent into exile as Ben Ali has now been.
    What is President Obama going to do if they emulate their colleagues in Iran and ruthlessly suppress further protests? If he and other world leaders don't lay out the scenario to the Tunisian people and the elites still trying to contain them now, so everyone understands what the United States will do to support the people, what incentive will those seeking to retain power have to take another route?
    Crucial next steps
    While the United States and the international community should not directly intervene unless the military begins killing or arresting large numbers of people, there are a number of steps Obama could take immediately to ensure that this nascent democratic moment takes root and spreads across the region.
    First, the President should not merely urge free and fair elections. He must publicly declare that the United States will not recognise, nor continue security or economic relations, with any government that is not democratically elected through international monitored elections. At the same time, he must freeze any assets of Tunisia's now ex-leadership and hold them until they can be reclaimed by the Tunisian people.
    Second, he should declare that the young people of Tunisia have shown the example for the rest of the Arab world, and offer his support for a "Jasmin Spring" across the Arab world. Obama should demand that every country in the region free all political prisoners, end all forms of censorship and political repression, and fully follow international law in the way they treat their citizens or the people's under their jurisdictions.
    Furthermore, the President should call on every country in the region to move towards free, fair, and internationally monitored elections within a specified time or risk facing a similar cut-off of ties, aid and cooperation. Such demands must be made together with America's reluctant European allies.
    Of course, such a call would apply to Israel as much as to Egypt, to Morocco as well as to Saudi Arabia. There would be one standard for every country from the Atlantic to the Indian ocean, and the US would pledge to stand with all people working to bring real democracy, freedom and development to their peoples and countries and to oppose all governments that stand in their way.
    Imagine what would happen to America's image in the Muslim world if the President took such a stand? Imagine what would happen to al Qaeda's recruitment levels if he adopted such a policy (in fact, al Qaeda has been equally behind the 8-ball, as it was only Friday that the leaders of the movement's so-called Maghrebian wing declared their support for the protests in Tunisia and Algeria).
    Imagine how hard it would be for so-called "supporters" of Israel to attack the President for finally putting some teeth behind his criticism of Israeli policy (which Clinton in Doha incredulously said the US could do nothing to stop) if he could reply that he was only holding Israel to the same standard as everyone else and that his policies were actually protecting America's core interests and security?
    Sinking in the sand
    In Doha, Clinton poetically spoke of regimes whose "foundations are sinking into the sand" and who will, it is assumed, disappear unless "reform" occurs. The reality is that US foreign policy towards the Middle East and larger Muslim world is equally in danger of sinking into the sands if the President and his senior officials are not willing to get ahead of history's suddenly accelerating curve. It is the US and Europe, as much as the leaders of the region, who in Clinton's words are in need of "a real vision for that future."
    Clinton was eloquent in her closing remarks at the Forum for the Future, where she declared,
    "Let us face honestly that future. Let us discuss openly what needs to be done. Let us use this time to move beyond rhetoric, to put away plans that are timid and gradual, and make a commitment to keep this region moving in the right direction. People are looking for real leadership in the 21st century, and I think it can be provided, and I know that this is the moment to do so."
    She couldn't be more right, but it will only happen if the United States, and not the Arab world's aging and autocratic leadership, takes her sage advice.
    Mark LeVine is a professor of history at UC Irvine and senior visiting researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in Sweden. His most recent books are Heavy Metal Islam (Random House) and Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books).
    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
     
  10. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

    #10
    Jan 19, 2011
    Joined: Sep 24, 2010
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    Opposition leaders excluded

    Opposition leaders excluded


    By Yasmine Ryan in
    on January 18th, 2011.

    [​IMG]Photo by Ayman Mohyeldin

    For all the talk of unity, two opposition parties have been excluded from the national coalition government that was announced yesterday, with no immediate prospect of being integrated into what is being portrayed by some as a democratic opening.

    The Communist Workers' Party of Tunisia (PCOT) is one of those parties. Simply being a member of the PCOT has for many years meant the danger of facing a prison sentence.

    Hamma Hammami (pictured, right), the party's spokesperson, was only freed from prison on Friday.[​IMG]

    "This is a national government which has nothing national about it," Hammami, told Al Jazeera. "It's intended to conserve the old regime in power with all of its authoritarian institutions in place."

    "This is why people are taking to the street with a new slogan ‘we don't want the RCD'," he said, referring to one of the slogans taken up on Monday's protests.

    For Hammami, like many other opposition leaders, former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's hasty departure is nowhere near enough. He called for "the party of Ben Ali" to be disbanded completely, along with all its "repressive apparatuses".

    He called for a provisional government to be established to help pave the way for the transition towards a truly democratic republic.

    The communist leader also had words for the Tunisian Islamist movement. He argued that the uprising, which had its one month anniversary on Monday, was a secular one, and called on the Ennahdha party to accept this and not to bring "polemics over theology" into the conversation.

    "We want to keep the people united over these aspirations," Hammami said. "We're calling on other parties not to divide the people."

    As for Tunisia's largest Islamist party, it is not only not included in the government. Its leader is being denied the right to return to Tunisian soil.

    Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of al-Nahda, announced on Saturday that he would be returning to Tunisia from his exile in London to join the unity government.

    But Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi said today in a statement that there's no way his namesake - no relation - can come back to his homeland unless a 1991 prison sentence is lifted.

    ***

    The news that Slim Amamou – known as @slim404 in the Twittersphere - has gone from imprisoned opposition blogger to government minister is drawing huge attention amongst online activists. Days after his release from prison, Amamou was appointed minister of youth and sport. Not surprisingly, he faced a storm of tweets from journalists requesting interviews.

    And I spoke with Azyz Amamy this morning, the first phone contact we have had since our interview the night before his arrest. We'll be meeting later in the week, stay tuned for our interview about his internet activism, arrest and what has happened since he was freed.
     
  11. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

    #11
    Jan 19, 2011
    Joined: Sep 24, 2010
    Messages: 61,381
    Likes Received: 490
    Trophy Points: 180
    Opposition leaders excluded

    Opposition leaders excluded


    By Yasmine Ryan in
    on January 18th, 2011.

    [​IMG]Photo by Ayman Mohyeldin

    For all the talk of unity, two opposition parties have been excluded from the national coalition government that was announced yesterday, with no immediate prospect of being integrated into what is being portrayed by some as a democratic opening.

    The Communist Workers’ Party of Tunisia (PCOT) is one of those parties. Simply being a member of the PCOT has for many years meant the danger of facing a prison sentence.

    Hamma Hammami (pictured, right), the party’s spokesperson, was only freed from prison on Friday.[​IMG]

    "This is a national government which has nothing national about it,” Hammami, told Al Jazeera. “It’s intended to conserve the old regime in power with all of its authoritarian institutions in place.”

    “This is why people are taking to the street with a new slogan ‘we don’t want the RCD’,” he said, referring to one of the slogans taken up on Monday’s protests.

    For Hammami, like many other opposition leaders, former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s hasty departure is nowhere near enough. He called for “the party of Ben Ali” to be disbanded completely, along with all its “repressive apparatuses”.

    He called for a provisional government to be established to help pave the way for the transition towards a truly democratic republic.

    The communist leader also had words for the Tunisian Islamist movement. He argued that the uprising, which had its one month anniversary on Monday, was a secular one, and called on the Ennahdha party to accept this and not to bring “polemics over theology” into the conversation.

    “We want to keep the people united over these aspirations,” Hammami said. “We’re calling on other parties not to divide the people.”

    As for Tunisia’s largest Islamist party, it is not only not included in the government. Its leader is being denied the right to return to Tunisian soil.

    Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of al-Nahda, announced on Saturday that he would be returning to Tunisia from his exile in London to join the unity government.

    But Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi said today in a statement that there’s no way his namesake - no relation - can come back to his homeland unless a 1991 prison sentence is lifted.

    ***

    The news that Slim Amamou – known as @slim404 in the Twittersphere - has gone from imprisoned opposition blogger to government minister is drawing huge attention amongst online activists. Days after his release from prison, Amamou was appointed minister of youth and sport. Not surprisingly, he faced a storm of tweets from journalists requesting interviews.

    And I spoke with Azyz Amamy this morning, the first phone contact we have had since our interview the night before his arrest. We’ll be meeting later in the week, stay tuned for our interview about his internet activism, arrest and what has happened since he was freed.
     
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