News Analysis: Tunisian leaders should waste no time to fill gap between gov't, streets: Analysts

19:29, January 25, 2011      

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Tunisian ministers and commission leaders went on TV one by one since the first meeting of the interim government Thursday, to pledge measures and vow determination to break up with the fallen regime.

However, the bulk of measures and the eloquence of the Tunisian politicians proved too weak to quell the protests on the streets, where demonstrators and even the police were calling for a bolder change, saying they want all ministers who had served ex-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali out of the government.

The sudden fall of the president brought by popular protests unveiled too wide a gap between Tunisia's political elite and the streets, to stabilize the country, leaders have to race with time to carry out reforms, show good intention and gain the trust over the excited Tunisian people, analysts say.


Nabil Cherni, a media communication professor with Tunis-based Manouba University and economic analyst, observed a gap in both economic and political area in Tunisia, which created deep distrust between the politicians and the people.

The north African country saw a three percent real GDP growth in 2009, according to CIA world factbook, not a bad score given the turmoil in world economy, and it even expected a more ambitious 5.4 percent growth in 2011.

However, few people benefited from the economic achievements, with the extended family of Ben Ali and his wife, Leila Ben Ali, and other privileged groups laying its hand on almost everything of the country's business, Nabil said, citing such key sectors as real estate, communication, car dealing, imports and exports.

As one result of the highly unequal distribution of wealth, unemployment hit 14 percent, and a much higher 52 percent among youngsters, according to officials, and among others, not many people in Tunisia, the country whose leader claimed is expected to turn into a developed one in 2014, can afford his own house, the university professor told reporters in his rented home.

Meanwhile, Grami Amel, a book writer and political analyst, portrayed as gloomy a picture in politics and said she and her husband have never been to a vote, referring to it as a huge lie.

"For a long time, there's a big gap between the people and the government, I've never been to a vote, because I know it's incredible, and many people have never voted in their life but still their names came out on the list as if they have voted, because somebody was voting on their place," Amel said.

The ousted Ben Ali, who came to power in a coup in 1987, was re- elected for a fifth term in 2009, with an overwhelming 89 percent of the votes, and before that he threatened his opponents that they would face legal retaliation if they questioned the fairness of the election, and besides, the ex-president had more than once amended constitution and sent discontents in jail or exile to facilitate his stay in power.

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