Tunsians continue their protests and demand that Ben Ali steps down

police snipers killing citiziens in Tunis

Lyon Street, Tunis, video: 15H30 / 13.01.11

Thousands of people gathered outside Tunisia’s interior ministry on Friday to demand the immediate resignation of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The crowd were shouting slogans including: “Ben Ali, barra, Ben Ali out, Ben Ali dehors!” and “Ben Ali, thank you but that’s enough!” The police was present in huge numbers, but they dit not come in action. Later in the afternoon, however, teargas was fired and the sound of live ammunition was heard when the security forces attempted to disperse the crowd.

At the same time Ben Ali reacted to the continuing protest in Tunis and many other places in Tunisia by declaring a state of emergences for the whole of the country. Also he fired his entire cabinet and promised that new elections would be held within six months.

It was apparently another move by a president who is on the brink of total despair. One day earlier Ben Ali made a tv-appearance during which he made several promises in an attempt to calm down the nationwide protests which started in mid December. Ben Ali said that he would not seek another term when his mandate expires in 2014 and promised to liberalize the political system. He said that the use of live ammunition against protesters would be stopped immediately, that the blockage of the internet would be halted and that there would be press freedom. His Foreign Minister, Kamel Morjane, one day later added in an interview with France’s Europe 1 radio, that Ben Ali even was prepared to hold legislative elections before a presidential poll in 2014 at the end of his term. Asked on France’s Europe 1 radio about Ben Ali’s plans after he promised in the face of deadly protests to step aside in 2014, Morjane said, “The president said it in a direct manner, since he decided the creation of a commission which will propose a revision of the electoral code.”

Tunis, Friday morning: crowd in front of the ministry of the interior

It was all to no avail. In the whole of Tunisia a general strike was being held. Mass demonstrations took place, according to various sources, among other places in Sfax, Sousse, Gafsa, Kasserine, El Kef and Khadra, apart from Tunis itself of course. Clashes with the security forces were reported in Hammam Lif. Some sources reported the ominous news that the villa of one of Ben Ali’s daughters in La Marsa has been pillaged, as well as the villa of the hated Belhassen Trabelsi, brother of the president’s wife. Leila Trabelsi. Unconfirmed reports also mentioned that the pilot of a plane at Carthago airport refused to take off with six members of the Trabelsi family aboard. Some days earlier news had transpired that Ben Ali’s son in law and prospective political heir Sakher Materi, had fled to Canada with his family.

The streets did not give in and with reason. The oppositional site Al Nawaat published bloody video’s from Tunis’ Kaireddin hospital and sayd that also after Ben Ali’s speech, and after the military withdrew from the city center of Tunis, people were killed by the security forces. In all 14 people got killed on Thursday, according top Nawaat: 4 in Tunis, 3 in Bizerte, 4 in Nabeul and 3 in Hamma. Scores of others were wounded. The total death toll must be over 70 now, according to earlier figures, collected by the International Human Rights Federation in Paris. Also the Tunisians are fed up with 23 years dictatorial rule by Ben Ali and his family who have run the country as their personal estate, the banks, the auto import branches, Tunisair and the airport, the main shipping line, real estate agglomerates and more being in their hands, so that can be said that they were the ones behind the whole of the Tunisian economy.

Ben Ali’s days are numbered, that seems for sure. Completely clouded in mystery however, is what will happen in the after-Ben Ali. A national coalition government? A takeover by the army? Anything is possible in a country where politics has never before has had a chance.

Author: Abu Pessoptimist
http://the-pessoptimist.blogspot.com/ [EN]
http://abu-pessoptimist.blogspot.com/ [NL]

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One Response to “Tunsians continue their protests and demand that Ben Ali steps down”

  1. Virgin McConnoly Says:

    Good story

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