NewsNorth AfricaTunisia: Hopelessness raises its head again


Posted on Thursday, 28 March 2013 16:53

Tunisia: Hopelessness raises its head again

PM-designate Larayedh and President Marzouki (right) check the seating plan/Photo©ION ABIDRegular clashes between secular forces in colourful flag-wielding parades and hardline Islamist supporters carrying the Salafist black banner have put paid to optimism about any easy transition.


"This is youth, selling cigarettes. This is unemployment!"

With those words, Adel Khedhri doused himself with fuel and set himself on fire on 12 March.

It echoes the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, which helped to catalyse the Tunisian and North African uprisings two years ago.

The assassination of the poet-politician Chokri Belaïd on 6 February sent shockwaves through the body politic.

Suddenly, the extent of the political violence affecting Tunisia was exposed, with Salafist groups claiming to defend the revolution ever more effective in silencing their critics.

The optimist line claiming that the turbulence was a mere blip in the transition away from Zine el Abidine

Ben Ali's police state is harder to hold.

Prime minster Hamadi Jebali's response to the killing was a push for a new technocratic government.

This was followed by his resignation when he was forced to climb down by his Ennahda party.

Opposition parties including Ettakatol and President Moncef Marzouki's Congrès pour la République rejoined a fresh government under new premier and former interior minister Ali Larayedh despite having walked out after the death of Belaïd.

Skeptics point to the parlous state of the interior ministry for clues to how a Larayedh administration might pan out.

Ministerial choices feed into the split between secular and Islamist forces.

Salem Labiadh's nomination as education minister, for example, has proved divisive given his repeated denunciations of Habib Bourguiba-era modernisation and his closeness to Ennahda●

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