Tunisian Regime Collapses: Popular Pressure or Fight at the Top?
It took less than a month to bring the Tunisian regime down to its knees and yet a massive political vacuum is casting a serious cloud on what’s next for Tunisia. President Ben Ali of Tunisia has apparently fled his country in the middle of his presidential term. There are no clear indications as to his whereabouts but sources say his flight was spotted above the Maltese airspace, headed north. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi moved into the Presidential offices in the Carthage Palace to replace Ben Ali. The military has also taken a more proactive and severe stance, perhaps challenging Ben Ali’s promises to restore civility.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali finally could no longer face public fury in a country that he ruled for some 23 years. It is still unclear whether Ben Ali will return, though unlikely.In a televised speech, Ghannouchi said he will respect the constitution and will restore the stability of the country during a transition period. The speech took place in the Carthage Palace with the presence of the two top assemblymen Fouad Mebazaa and Abdallah Kallal. Note that prior to leaving, Ben Ali announced the dismantling of the nation’s Parliament with new legislative elections to take place within 6 months.
Analysis: These latest developments in Tunisia are unlike anything else we have seen over the past decades. It is unclear whether Ben Ali’s departure was triggered by the protracted and seemingly unstoppable popular movement or by a reaction from his entourage and “the families” that may have felt threatened by Ben Ali’s announced crackdown “on those who lied to him.” Meanwhile, the dismantling of the government did not sit well with many in the cabinet. It is also possible that the military may be contributing to the incredible departure of Ben Ali. After all, the military establishments in the Arab world hold the final say in politics too.
As for the Tunisian people, the takeover by Ghannouchi is not the solution they are looking for. After all, as a Prime Minister, Ghannouchi has been in the commands of the country for over a decade. The country is also under a state of emergency, which prevents the gathering of groups of more than three people between 5:00 PM and 7:00 AM.
Tunisia is now plunged in an atmosphere of uncertainty. The military and the new men in power could decide to discipline their people to restore a dictatorial government or decide to take the lead in restoring sanity.
Click below to listen to the latest developments live from Tunis.