Change without change in Tunisia’s “unity” government

Before it was even clear it was a revolution, the Tunisian uprising had been dubbed the Jasmine Revolution — as though revolutionary change was about to sweep the Arab world as rapidly as color revolutions transformed former Soviet states.

That might still happen, but the name most fitting for what has happened in Tunisia is the name used on the streets of Tunis: intifada. The eventual outcome of the uprising remains unknown.

The Guardian reports:

There was little sign of jubilation in Tunisia today when the prime minister announced his new “unity” government. Even though several opposition figures were included, Tunisians who had spent the past few weeks battling to oust the president, Ben Ali, expressed disappointment. There were too many old faces in the “new” regime, especially in key ministries such as defence, interior, finance and foreign affairs.

The prime minister himself, 69-year-old Mohamed Ghannouchi, is a Ben Ali loyalist of long standing, having served since 1999. In Tunisia, he became known as “Monsieur Oui Oui” for always saying yes to the president.

To many ordinary Tunisians, these are worrying signs. In the words of a trade unionist quoted on Twitter: “Tunisia has got rid of the dictator but hasn’t got rid of the dictatorship yet.”

The veteran Tunisian dissident and journalist Taoufik ben Brik writes (in French — translation provided by Issandr El Amrani):

In Tunisia, as elsewhere, a tyrant can hide another. Mohamed Ghannouchi, Ben Ali’s prime minister, and Fouad Mebazaa, the speaker of parliament (unelected) and right hand of Ben Ali have taken over a vacant presidency. Change without change. We’ve cut off the duck’s head, but the body continues to move. Ben Ali ran off, but left behind a whole system that relies on three Ps: Police, Profiteers and Party. Here, everything depends on the karakouz, the Turkish shadow puppet theater. And we know all too well who is puppeteer and who is puppet. No one is fooled. Power is still in the hands of Ben Ali’s old stalwarts. “A bloodbath would not make them back down” is the general opinion. The police, the ruling RCD party and the profiteers won’t let go that easily. They are not a charity.

Power is never relinquished without a struggle and in Tunisia the struggle continues.

AFP now reports:

The resignation of three ministers rocked Tunisia’s fledgling unity government on Tuesday as protesters vented their anger at the new leadership just days after the ouster of the Arab state’s strongman.

The ministers, representing Tunisia’s main trade union, announced their withdrawal after the union refused to recognise an administration that contains eight ministers from president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s discredited regime.

“We are resigning from the government after a call from our union,” said Houssine Dimassi, training and employment minister in the transitional unity government unveiled only on Monday.

Dimassi said the two other ministers resigning were Abdeljelil Bedoui, a minister working in the prime minister’s office, and Anouar Ben Gueddour, a junior transport minister.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email