News / Africa

US Sees Political Progress in Tunisia Despite Turmoil

State Department says it thinks new unity government making progress toward political reform despite continuing disputes over its make-up

Tunisian PM Mohamed Ghannouchi arrives to announce a national unity government in Tunis, 17 Jan 2011
Tunisian PM Mohamed Ghannouchi arrives to announce a national unity government in Tunis, 17 Jan 2011

The U.S. State Department said Tuesday it thinks Tunisia’s new unity government is making progress toward political reform despite continuing disputes over its make-up. U.S. officials believe the events of the past week in Tunisia, in which authoritarian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was driven from power, have implications for the region.

The State Department is downplaying the continuing turmoil in Tunisia’s interim administration, and says it believes the country’s politicians are making progress toward a credible electoral process.

Four ministers, three of them from the country’s trade union movement, resigned Tuesday, only a day after being appointed, complaining that the transitional government includes too many holdovers from the ousted Ben Ali government.

The new leadership has promised parliamentary and presidential elections within six months through no dates have been set.

Briefing reporters, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said the United States is closely monitoring developments and believes the interim government is moving in the right direction despite what he described as political "jockeying."

Key players in Tunisia

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

Ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali ruled Tunisia for more than two decades. He fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14.

Mohamed Ghannouchi

Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi is a close ally of the ousted president. He announced a new unity government this week.

Fouad Mebazaa

Fouad Mebazaa was sworn in as Tunisia's interim president last week. H previously served as the speaker of parliament.

Najib Chebbi

Najib Chebbi is the founder of the largest and most credible opposition group, the Progressive Democratic Party.

Moncek Marzouki

Moncek Marzouki is the head of the small Congress for the Republic party. The formerly exiled political activist and opposition leader returned to the country Tuesday.

"I think the interim government in Tunisia is moving ahead," he said. "They have taken some steps to begin the process of reform. They’re opening up space for the media to actually report on what’s going on. They have brought some opposition leaders into the government. Obviously there’s a debate going on as to whether more needs to be done. There is a process underway inside Tunisia and we will be looking to see if there are ways in which we can provide support."

Public protests drove President Ben Ali from power Friday, only a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at a political forum in Qatar, said that many Arab governments risked “sinking into the sand” unless they liberalized their political systems and economies.

In his comments here, spokesman Crowley sidestepped a question as to whether the United States is worried about a chain reaction of friendly Arab leaders being deposed. But he said governments in the region need to be responsive to public needs and concerns.

"There is this pent-up desire for reform in the region," he said. "It is important for governments to listen to their people, and it important for governments to respond to their people. We want to see political reform occur. Governments are hard-pressed, obviously, to create political, social and economic opportunity for their people. We are a partner in this process, but clearly it is important for governments to listen to their people and to take affirmative steps to meet the aspirations of their people."

Crowley said the situation on the ground in Tunisia has improved somewhat in the last two days, but that the United States Tuesday conducted an evacuation flight from Tunis to Rabat  of 70 U.S. diplomatic dependents and private citizens.

The action was in keeping with a travel alert for Tunisia issued by the State Department Sunday, which advised U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to the North African country, and announced an "authorized departure" of family members of U.S. diplomats.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid