News / Africa

New Leader in Tunisia Calls for a Unity Government

Soldiers stand guard atop a building the center of Tunis, 15 Jan 2011
Soldiers stand guard atop a building the center of Tunis, 15 Jan 2011
Lisa Bryant

Tunisia's new interim president called for the formation of a coalition government as riots and unrest continued to grip the North African country.

It was another tumultuous day in Tunisia's capital, marked by gunshots, helicopters flying overhead and a fast-paced series of political changes for this normally staid North African country.

Just hours after hardline president Zine El Abdine Ben Ali fled the country, Tunisia swore in a new, interim leader. He is Fouad Mebazza, the former head of the lower house of parliament. He has ordered the creation of a unity government that includes members of the opposition.   The Tunisia Constitutional Council, which swore in Mr. Mebazza, says the new leader has 60 days to hold new presidential elections.

On the streets of the capital, Tunisians ventured out to survey the damage of widespread looting that broke out following massive demonstrations Friday calling for Ben Ali to go. Tanks dotted the streets that were littered with broken glass and burnt objects. Assailants have also torched Tunisia's main train station.

Still, 22-year old student Hishem Benyaghem says he is optimistic about Tunisia's future. He believes it will only bring good things.

Farez Bouslim, a man in his '40s, is less upbeat. He thinks a democratic transition in Tunisia will not be easy. He is afraid there will be more bloodshed.

Reports of violence continue to flood in. Along with the call to prayer, sounds of gunfire rang across the capital Saturday evening. There were reports of prisoner rebellions and prison fires elsewhere in the country. The evening saw another curfew, with the streets of Tunis empty except for police and soldiers - and looters.

Fueled by the Internet and popular uprisings, the power change - dubbed the Jasmine or Facebook revolution -  is being watched closely overseas. Washington, France, the Arab League and Germany have all praised the ordinary Tunisians behind it. But they are also calling for democratic elections to follow.

At the end, says Claire Spencer, a senior North African analyst at London think-tank Chatham House, Tunisians had had enough of Ben Ali's hardline regime. "When the corruption is too flagrant and the responses are too heavy handed,  people say we can't tolerate this anymore. This is beyond what I and my personal dignity can stand," she said.

Spencer believes democratic change is possible but it will happen gradually. And she says that other things Tunisians hunger for - jobs and economic opportunities - will likely come slowly.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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