News / Middle East

Tunisia Appeals for Support in Last Steps Towards Democracy

Tunisia's Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa speaks during a news conference in Tunis, Jan. 26, 2014.
Tunisia's Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa speaks during a news conference in Tunis, Jan. 26, 2014.
Reuters
— Tunisia's new Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa on Tuesday appealed to the international community for financial support to help the North African country take the last steps in its transition to a full democracy.

Three years after the uprising against autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali inspired similar revolts across the region, Tunisia on Monday adopted a new constitution.

The country's ruling Islamists and secular opposition have set aside their differences to allow Jomaa's caretaker government to lead until elections are held later this year - a breakthrough deal that ended months of political deadlock.

Jomaa, a technocrat who once ran an aerospace parts company in Paris, has appointed a non-political Cabinet to bring stability to Tunisia, which must tackle a large budget deficit and the threat of Islamist militants.

“The friends of Tunisia and the international institutions should support Tunisia financially in this sensitive phase of democratic transition,” Jomaa said in an address to the national assembly, which was approving his cabinet.

“This phase will need some economic reforms and sources of financing.”

International lenders want a cut in subsidies as well as other reforms to trim Tunisia's widening budget deficit, which the government expects to jump to 6.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2013, compared to 6 percent in 2012.

Tunisia relies heavily on tourism from Europe and remittances from abroad. Protests broke out recently over a tax increase, forcing the government to roll back the measure.

Tunisian officials say the recent political and economic strides forward should be enough to persuade the International Monetary Fund to release a second, $500 million tranche from a $1.5 billion credit.

Jomaa has put ministers with experience in international organizations into key posts. The new finance minister has worked for the African Development Bank, and the foreign minister for the United Nations.

Tunisia's progress has been praised as model that contrasts sharply with North African neighbors Egypt and Libya, who are battling to overcome turmoil and violence in messy transitions since they ousted their own rulers.

Jomaa was appointed after ruling Islamists agreed to step down late last year, a compromise with their secular opponents to end a crisis that threatened to upend the country's political transition after its 2011 “Arab Spring” revolt.

In Egypt, the democratically elected Islamist president was deposed by the army last year, and in Libya, former rebels who once fought Muammar Gadhafi often make armed demands on a transitional government that is still in flux.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid