The struggle to restore order in Tunisia

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The struggle to restore order in Tunisia

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Tunisia’s embattled political elite will hope the country’s new unity government can finally end weeks of turmoil. Despite that, many ordinary Tunisians are still furious that some members of the old regime led by ousted President Ben Ali will keep their posts.

‘‘Can you trust liars? Those that supported the dictator’s regime? We don’t want them anymore, we hate them,’‘ said one woman.

Led by Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, the aim of the new unity leadership is first of all to stabilise the Arab state and prepare it for elections. Despite calls for Ben Ali’s RCD party to be excluded from that process, not everyone agrees.

‘‘We are in an emergency situation. Even if we don’t agree with the government, that there are elements of the old regime, we can’t make a new government without experience. It’s a period of transition, for a government elected by the people,’‘ one man said.

Critics say one of the big problems is that the opposition has had little exposure to the electorate, having been silenced by the former president who has fled the country. Key elements of Tunisia’s political opposition were either forbidden from standing in elections or were exiled. Analyst Nourredine Mbarki believes bringing these factions back into the fold will prove difficult.

‘‘Today, there are those who defend the return of non-recognised political parties, such as the Tunisian workers’ party, the rebirth of Ghannouchi, and the Republican Congress party,” he said. “They say these parties should now play a role in Tunisia’s new political game. And this is a big point of difference, because today we are facing a dilemma: either we continue to work with the existing constitution, or tear it up and start again.’‘

However, for exiled opposition leader Moncef Marzouki it remains out of the question to step aside and work with Tunisia’s existing establishment. He has also vowed to stand in the country’s forthcoming presidential elections.

‘‘We are going to work together so that nobody will steal the victory of the Tunisian people and that there will be free and fair elections,’‘ Marzouki said.

But having only had one party in charge for more than 50 years, one of the main challenges facing Tunisia is finding those outside the elite with the expertise to run the country.