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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs