Foreign Affairs

Tunisia president not to run again.



by Al Jazeer:


The Tunisian president has announced in a televised address he will not seek a re-election when his presidency comes to an end in 2014 The announcement by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has been in power since 1987, came amid violent protests across the country over unemployement and rising food prices.

“I understand the Tunisians, I understand their demands. I am sad about what is happening now after 50 years of service to the country, military service, all the different posts, 23 years of the presidency,” Ben Ali said. Ben Ali ordered reduction in the prices of bread, milk and sugar, and also instructed security forces to stop using firearms against protesters in his speech on Thursday evening.

Yet despite the president’s announcement that live ammunition would not be used, Al Jazeera learned that three more people were killed in Aouina, a suburb of Tunis – less than an hour after the president’s speech.

“I couldn’t understand because the president just said that they’d stop using live ammunition, but they still shooting people,” the witness told Al Jazeera. The International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) said earlier on Thursday that it has tallied 66 confirmed deaths since the protests began on December 17.

A Tunisian activist told Al Jazeera, speaking from Tunis under condition of anonymity, that the speech “shows definitely a major shift in Tunisia’s history”. “Ben Ali talked for the third time in the past month to the people. Something unprecedented, we barely knew this guy,” he said.

It was noteworthy that, for the first time on Thursday, Ben Ali spoke in the Tunisian dialect instead of Arabic, he added.

Ben Ali promised broader political freedoms, including the formation of a political party and that all censorship of the internet and traditional media would be halted. “People are still cautious and doubt these words,” the activist said. “Turning his words into action will be a very difficult mission.”

Al Jazeer

The citizens wanted their city back and their taking it back, with force.

It’s interesting to note that the cables released by Wikileaks brought attention to the rampant fraud in the Tunisian government.