Tunisia. According to Countryaah, the capital of Tunisia is Tunis. Several human rights organizations criticized Tunisia’s police, military and judicial system for various forms of abuse during the year. One example was human rights activist Khemais Ksila, vice president of the Tunisian League for Human Rights Defense, who in February was sentenced to five years in prison for disrupting public order, spreading hostile rumors and urging the country’s residents to break the law.
The government announced in May that the country’s privatization program would accelerate through the sale of 50 companies before the end of 1999. The decision followed an agreement with the EU which meant increased aid to Tunisia on the condition that privatizations were carried out at a faster pace.
In February, Parliament voted for a total ban on smoking in public places.
2011 Exit Ben Ali
In December 2010, WikiLeaks published embassy reports from US embassies since 1965. The reports indicated, among other things, that the superpower had a thorough knowledge of the extensive corruption in Tunisia, and especially that the president and his wife’s families had stolen billions of US $ from the Tunisian state. The news – which most people in fact knew in advance – also reached Tunisia, where in January it triggered a broad revolt against the dictator, who had already been in power for 24 years. The uproar started when street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, in protest of the government’s abuse and conditions in the country on December 17, set fire to himself. The self-ignition triggered demonstrations against the regime, which eventually reached the entire country. On December 27, they reached the capital of Tunis. The two most prominent sectors of the protests were young educated and workers who gathered in demands for work and democracy. On January 11, the uprising had progressed so far, that the security forces loyal to the president attacked the protesters, killing hundreds. The president had traditionally used the security forces to crush incipient opposition, but this role the military had never had. Surprisingly, the military now intervened between security forces and protesters. The dual power situation was untenable. There were frequent armed clashes between military and security forces. On January 14, President Ben Ali put the country in an emergency, disbanded the government and promised new democratic elections within 6 months. But by then the race had already run. The military surrounded the presidential palace, and at. 16 he flew to Malta, from there to pass on to his traditional allies, France. But Sarkozy refused to accept him. He instead went into exile in Saudi Arabia.
Before the escape, he managed to put his newly deposed prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, in the presidential post – during “Ben Ali’s temporary absence.” Already on January 15, however, he was replaced by the President of Parliament, Fouad Mebazaa – in formal compliance with the Constitution. Ghannouchi instead formed a “national unity government”, consisting both of representatives of the old government party, the RCD, the opposition, and representatives of civil society. However, the protests continued when Ben Ali was probably removed, but the system – the RCD party – was intact. Ghannouchi tried to buy time by signing out of RCD on January 18. The day before – but only the day before – RCD had been thrown out by the Socialist International, the Socialist International. On the 20th, the other RCD members of the «unity government» resigned from RCD. The protests continued unchallenged, and on January 27, Ghannouchi implemented a government transformation, removing all former RCD members from the government – except himself. On February 7, RCD was disbanded. The party that had ruled Tunisia continuously since independence in 1956 was thus history.
On January 26, the government issued an arrest warrant against Ben Ali for illegally stealing thieves out of the country, and on 28, Interpol issued an international arrest warrant against Ben Ali and 6 members of his family, including his wife Leila Trabelsi. At the same time, the Swiss authorities stated that they had frozen more than 10 million. US $ on accounts of the deposed president or members of his family.