News / Africa

With Elections on the Way, Tunisia Still Unsettled

Tunisian police officers disperse hundreds of demonstrators during clashes in Tunis, May 5, 2011
Tunisian police officers disperse hundreds of demonstrators during clashes in Tunis, May 5, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Two months before scheduled elections, Tunisia remains a country in flux. Protests continue, discontented Tunisians are still migrating to Europe and the country is grappling with unrest spilling over from neighboring Libya.

Tunisia was at the vanguard of the protests still roiling the Arab world. The self-immolation of a young man in southern Tunisia set off a popular uprising that drove long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power in January - and inspired similar anti-government movements elsewhere.

Now the country is looking ahead. Elections are scheduled in July for a constituent assembly, tasked with drawing up a new constitution and preparing for elections for a new government. Dozens of parties have sprouted on the political scene.

Fares Mabrouk, who heads the newly established Arab Policy Institute, a Tunis-based think-tank, is upbeat. "I think that today all the ingredients are here for the success of this transition in Tunisia. Yes, there are more than 70 parties, but they are all organized to communicate a project and their program, so it's a very exciting and very interesting period," he said.

But Tunisia's interim government has already raised the possibility the July vote will be delayed. Demonstrations continue for faster reforms. Tunisia's once-vibrant economy is struggling to get back on its feet and young Tunisians continue to head in droves to Europe - prompting talk of tightening Europe's open-border Schengen agreement.

Men, who used to work in Libya and fled the unrest in the country, carry their belongings as they walk during a sand storm in a refugee camp at the Tunisia-Libyan border, in Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, March 15, 2011
Men, who used to work in Libya and fled the unrest in the country, carry their belongings as they walk during a sand storm in a refugee camp at the Tunisia-Libyan border, in Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, March 15, 2011

Libyan refugees

Unrest in neighboring Libya has already spilled across Tunisia's borders. Over the past few months, several hundred thousand people have crossed over, fleeing the fighting. According to reports, that includes the wife and daughter of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and Libya's oil minister.

In an interview with France's Europe 1 radio this week in Paris, visiting Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi acknowledged the challenges.

Essebsi said the Libyan unrest was practically a domestic problem. Tunisia has protested and threatened to take the matter to the United Nations Security Council.

Fear factors

There are also reports of al-Qaida's presence on Tunisia's soil. And fears about the mounting popularity of Tunisia's moderate Islamist party, Ennadha.

Ennadha leaders argue they support a multiparty democracy. In a recent interview on French radio Ajmi Lourimi, a member of Ennadha's executive committee, scoffed at those who doubt them.

Lourimi said Ennadha was for a modern, democratic state with a separation of powers, an independent judiciary and a free press.

Analyst Mabrouk also downplays fears about Ennadha. "The movement did not radicalize despite 23 years of repression [under Ben Ali's rule]. Despite the torture and imprisonment of the members. Yes, Ennadha will be one of the leading political parties in this now and open and democratic political arena. But Ennadha is also popular," he said.

U.S. aid

In a keynote speech on U.S. Middle East policy this week, President Barack Obama announced billions of dollars in aid for Tunisia and Egypt, which also overthrew its authoritarian government. He said Washington had asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan to help both economies at the upcoming G8 summit in France.

"Together, we must help them recover from the disruptions of their democratic upheaval and support the governments that will be elected later this year. And we are urging other countries to help Egypt and Tunisia meet its near term financial needs," said the U.S. president.

Wire services report that France will announce a partnership for financial aid and investment for Tunisia and Egypt during the G8 summit, which takes place next Thursday and Friday in the French city of Deauville.

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

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs