News / Africa

Tunisia Constitutional Council Appoints Interim Head of State

Tunisian speaker of the lower house of parliament, Fouad Mebazaa, takes an oath as interim President of Tunisia, in Tunis, 15 Jan 2011
Tunisian speaker of the lower house of parliament, Fouad Mebazaa, takes an oath as interim President of Tunisia, in Tunis, 15 Jan 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Tunisia's highest constitutional body has appointed the head of the lower house of parliament as temporary head of the North African country, after massive protests drove longstanding leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from the country.

A day after massive protests and riots toppled Tunisia's authoritarian president, Tunisians ventured into the streets of the capital to survey the damage and digest the historic events. Riot police and army tanks were out in force and helicopters flew overhead.

While most ordinary Tunisians were barred from venturing down the main Habib Bourguiba Avenue - scene of massive demonstrations and rioting on Friday - other streets were open to traffic and pedestrians.

Basma Moussa, a woman in her 50s, surveyed the damage. Charred objects littered the sidewalks and smashed store windows. Rioters burned Tunis' main station and looted many shops.

Moussa said she was sad to see Tunis in such bad shape. But she was proud of Tunisians for toppling their longtime president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Tunisians are tired, she said, and they are poor.


Tunisia Country Profile

  • Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya
  • Population: 10,589,025 (July 2010 est.)
  • Ethnic Groups: Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%
  • Religion: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%
  • Languages: Arabic , French
  • Government: Republic
  • History: Tunisia declared independence from France on March 20, 1956. Habib Bourguiba was Tunisia's first president. He was deposed by then-Prime Minister Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Nov. 7, 1987. Mr. Ben Ali was elected to a fifth consecutive term in office in October 2009.

The constitutional council says President Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia Friday night, has left power for good.

Here in Tunis, many are divided about the future. Some are hopeful the country would finally become the true democracy they yearned for. Others are fearful that yet another authoritarian regime would come to power.

Fifty-three-year-old business owner Anouar Frika recalled the last power change in 1987, when the country's long-time leader Habib Bourguiba was removed from office and Mr. Ben Ali replaced him.

Then, Frika says, Mr. Ben Ali promised change - but that never happened. Nor does he have much confidence in Tunisia's political parties right now. But he thinks that with time they will learn what democracy is all about. He is glad law enforcement authorities are out to keep order on the streets.

But 27-year-old Marouen Gara is more pessimistic.

Gara said protesters created a revolution and want freedom. Now he sees police on the street. He says this is not the freedom they had hoped for.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid