News / Africa

Tunisia Tense Ahead of Revolution Anniversary

People at a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution December 17, 2011, in the town of Sidi Bouzid, where it was sparked by the self-immolation of a fruit vendor.
People at a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution December 17, 2011, in the town of Sidi Bouzid, where it was sparked by the self-immolation of a fruit vendor.
Lisa Bryant

An elderly man is in serious condition after setting himself on fire in southern Tunisia this week - in an apparent attempt to draw attention to the dire economic situation in the North African country. The act speaks to simmering tensions days ahead of the one year anniversary of Tunisia's revolution that launched the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising.

Press reports describe the man as a grandfather in his 80s. He had joined a group of unemployed people demonstrating to be able to meet ministers from the new government visiting the southern region around Gafsa. His act of immolation late Thursday triggered unrest, with police clashing with stone-throwing youths.

It was a similar act - by a frustrated vegetable vendor that triggered widespread protests culminating in Tunisia's January 14th revolution last year that launched the larger "Arab Spring" uprising.  Tunis-based political science professor Hamadi Radissi says the same volatile ingredients - poverty and high unemployment - remain today.

"Tunisia today is as it was one year before…with roughly one million job seekers, 20 percent rate of poverty, 170,000 graduates asking for jobs. The situation doesn't change," said Radissi.

Underscoring popular frustration, Radissi says, there have been numerous self-immolations in the year since Tunisia ousted long-time dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. The country has also witnessed a slew of strikes and protests airing political as well as economic grievances.

Still, other observers point to more positive events. In October, Tunisia held its first democratic elections for a new Constituent Assembly that were hailed as an Arab model by the international community. The moderate Islamist Ennahdha party, banned for years under Ben Ali, is now the major political force in the new coalition government.

On Thursday, visiting Foreign Minister Alain Juppe of France - Tunisia's former colonial power - hailed the democratic transition and offered support for the new government.

In remarks to reporters, Mr. Juppe said France will increase its aid to Tunisia. He encouraged French investors and tourists to return to the North African country. The international community has pledged billions of dollar in assistance. But so far, analyst Radissi says, there is little evidence of it on the ground.

"In six months the situation is going to worsen. Europe, the United States and Arab [countries] are not ready or not in a hurry to give money and help the new government because it is Islamist, so they are waiting - and the country can't wait," he said.

Other observers are much more optimistic about Tunisia's future. They see the current problems as growing pains as the country begins a new chapter in its history.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid