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Tunisia’s President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali Forced Out, Flees to France

14 January 2011 14 January 2011 Tags: One Comment Print This Post Print This Post

Zine al-Abidine Ben. Source: www.topnews.in

Tunisia’s President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has been forced out of office by a mass movement characterized by widespread protests and anti-government demonstrations. Ben Ali is only the second Tunisian president since the country won independence from France and has been in office for 23 years.  Until recently, Tunisia was considered a beacon of stability in the Maghreb, but a state of emergency was declared in the midst of nationwide protests over unemployment, rising food and housing prices, corruption, and authoritarianism.

The official death toll in almost a month of violence was 23. However, Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights said it had a list of at least 66 people killed. The civil unrest was sparked in Sidi Bouzid when a jobless man, a graduate, set fire to himself as an act of protest. Developments in Tunisia are being followed closely by people and regimes in the region.

In a televised address, Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi said he would  take over as interim President until elections can be held. Ben Ali is believed to be heading to France.

There are reports of tanks and armored carriers on the streets of Tunis, the country’s capital. The street were reported deserted. The now former President Ben Ali appeared on Tunisian television on Thursday to announce that this would be his last term as President, and that he would order police to stop firing on protesters. He also promised to relax restrictions on speech within the country. As a gesture, websites such as YouTube and Google which had previously banned were made accessible.

One Comment »

  • Ann_Garrison said:

    I just studied the WIkipedia histories of Ben Ali, and his predecessor, Habib Bourguiba, . Granted this, the Wikipedia review, was not a scholarly undertaking, but the familiar pattern emerges. An African independence leader becomes a new African nation's first president, only to be assassinated and or removed in a coup d'état and replaced with a tool trained by Western military and intelligence. Same pattern in one African nation after another, after independence. I'm sure there are variations and exceptions but I've read this basic story over and over. Here's the Wikipedia summary of Ben Ali's training before "medical doctors" declared Habib Bourguiba incompetent and Ben Ali took over in a bloodless coup:

    "Upon completion of secondary school, Ben Ali earned degrees from the Special Inter-service School in Saint-Cyr, France, the Artillery School in Châlons-sur-Marne, France, the Senior Intelligence School (Maryland, USA) and the School for Anti-Aircraft Field Artillery (Texas, USA). His professional military career began in 1964 as a Tunisian staff officer. During his time in military service, he established the Military Security Department and directed its operations for 10 years. He briefly served as military attaché to Morocco and Spain before being appointed General Director of National Security in 1977."

    Habib Bourguiba had both law and political science degrees and a long history struggling for Tunisia's independence, including resistance to the overtures of German and Italian fascists during World War II.

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