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December 29, 2010: The former president pays a visit to Tunisia’s accidental hero.

Congratulations to the people of Tunisia! The dictator has taken flight.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in power for 23 years, whose wife’s family was dedicated full time to stealing the wealth of the nation, who made Tunisia infamous for censorship and oppression, got on a plane and fled the country this afternoon.

Just yesterday, he was trying to cling to power a little bit longer. He thought he was making a concession by promising not to run for re-election in 2014, and by ordering his forces to stop firing live ammunition on his fellow citizens. That didn’t work.

This all began when Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed college graduate, was stopped by police for selling vegetables on the street. When the police confiscated his produce, he set himself on fire in an act of desperation, and later died from his injuries.

It was the spark that lit the flames of popular discontent. Since then, the protests have only grown from day to day, as the people lost their fear, in the first-ever successful popular uprising against an autocratic Arab regime.

At least 66 Tunisians gave their lives so this would happen. They did it on their own, without leaders, and with barely a hint of support from Western governments so committed in rhetoric to Arab democracy.

Today, the prime minister has taken power as “provisional” president. Although an economist and technocrat, he is part of the old power structure, so it isn’t over. What matters now is the transition, the building of new institutions able to represent the popular will.

The provisional government should end censorship immediately. They should call elections for a very near date, and invite all political factions to participate. They should form a citizens’ committee including respected members of the opposition, to ensure the transition is free and fair. And the people should keep the pressure on until the game is won.

Best wishes to Tunisia, which is showing the world how it’s done.

Comments

Comment from Housseine
Time: January 15, 2011, 14:19

Sad as can be… now that lamer is hidding in KSA.

Comment from ayoub
Time: January 18, 2011, 12:00

A lot more to go

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