Tunisians celebrate one-month anniversary of president’s toppling

Monday, February 14, 2011

TUNIS - Tunisians are celebrating the one-month anniversary of the toppling of their authoritarian president, Zine al- Abidine Ben Ali, but the country’s travails are showing signs of going out of control.

Bakers have threatened to stop producing baguettes if their salaries are not hiked, while lawyers are demanding greater judicial independence.

The unemployed are organizing sit-in demonstrations.

Though Tunisians say they are proud that their uprising has been successful against decades of authoritarian rule, according to the New York Times, they are also realizing that bringing down the dictator may have been the easy part.

With restrictions on the media lifted and freedom of speech flourishing, years of bottled-up demands over salaries, working conditions and other rights have erupted.

On Sunday, the Tunisian foreign minister, Ahmed Ounaiss, resigned after his staff refused to work with him.

According to the New York Times, Tunisians seem torn between a desire to fully eradicate the remnants of the previous regime and a pining for stability.

The challenges that they face also provide a glimpse at what may lie ahead for them and the rest of the Middle East in terms of political transition.

Tunisia currently has a fragile caretaker government, headed by the former speaker of Parliament, who is trying to juggle the security concerns and the clamor for a new political system.

“We are only starting now to think about the future,” said Mahmoud Ben Romdhane, a former university professor who leads the Movement Ettajdid, or Renewal Movement, a left-leaning political party.

The danger, he said, is that “the revolutionary dynamic can go on forever.”

A consensus is still far off. The degree of interplay between religion and politics in the new order remains an open question in what has been a relatively secular society.

The caretaker government says it expects to hold elections within five or six months. (ANI)

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