A very encouraging report from Al Jazeera English. The Tunisian people aren’t ready to settle yet but to press on for what they originally demanded: a regime untainted by the pro-Western dictatorship of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and offering genuine democratic and civil reforms.
Tunisia’s interim authorities have disbanded the country’s feared state security apparatus, notorious for human rights abuses under the ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Seeking to assert their authority and gain legitimacy in the eyes of protesters who forced Ben Ali to flee in January, the authorities appear to be attacking the remaining vestiges of his 23-year rule, one-by-one.
Meanwhile, Beji Caid Sebsi, Tunisia’s new interim prime minister, unveiled a cabinet of technocrats on Monday, rather than career politicians. None of the new ministers had served in previous governments under Ben Ali.
Sebsi told a press conference the ministers had been chosen in the public interest to see through a delicate transition until Tunisians elect a national constituent assembly on July 24.
“This is a temporary government which will be in office for only 4-1/2 months, to save the country from the grave situation
it finds itself in,” he said.
Shortly after the cabinet line-up was announced, an interior ministry spokesman said Ben Ali’s political police and state
security apparatus had been dissolved – a core demand behind the popular uprising.
“I can confirm that it was decided to terminate them. We will take other decisions that will please the people,” he said.
The twin security organs had functioned as domestic spy agencies with wide powers to suppress opposition to the regime.
The two agencies’ officers monitored opposition politicians and journalists, could arrest people at will, and were accused by
rights groups of torturing detainees.
More recently, many demonstrators had said state security agents were infiltrating their protests to stir up violence and
trigger a backlash against the uprising.
“It is a dream come true for everyone,” Ali Larayedh, a member of the pro-democracy Islamist al-Nahda movement, told Reuters news agency.
“People have suffered because of them. They wrecked politics, the media and the judiciary in this country.”
Restrictions on new cabinet
Meanwhile, despite a new cabinet being unveiled, the new prime minister has kept the heads of the crucial defence, interior, justice and foreign-affairs ministries in their posts.
But he named new figures to six posts vacated last week by ministers apparently trying to distance themselves from the caretaker government, seen by some as too close to the regime of Ben Ali.
Sebsi, 84, himself was named just a week ago after his predecessor quit amid renewed protest violence.
The prime minister’s website said on Monday that the new appointments had been approved by the interim president.
Sebsi had said on Friday that he would present a new cabinet to help pull his country back from the “abyss”.
Two previous caretaker administrations collapsed as they included members regarded by demonstrators as being too close to Ben Ali’s old guard, such as former interim prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi.
The members of the new cabinet will not be allowed to be candidates in future elections.
Sebsi said his priorities would be re-establishing security, rebuilding Tunisia’s suddenly troubled economy, and bringing life back to normal in the country that has long been a popular tourist destination.