Tunisia. During the year, Tunisians became the guiding star for the entire Arab world when they first ousted their one-term president Zayn al-Abidin Ben Ali and then held a democratic parliamentary election. The revolt had begun around the turn of the year since an unemployed academic, Mohammed Bouazizi, had taken his life in protest at his failure to support himself. Demonstrations, which soon went by the name of the Jasmine Revolution, blazed across the country. According to Countryaah official site, left-wing activists and academics united with unemployed youth and demanded, with predominantly peaceful means, democratization and a stop to corruption. When the protests reached the capital of Tunis on January 11, Ben Ali ordered military out in the streets and imposed a nightly curfew, but on January 14, he and his family fled to Saudi Arabia.
An uncertain time followed. The Constitutional Court appointed President Fouad Mebazaa as acting president. Mebazaa ordered Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi to form an acting unity government. It came to be dominated by Ben Ali’s party RCD (Constitutional Democratic Assembly), after which several other intended ministers jumped off and new demonstrations erupted. Ghannouchi resigned on February 27 and was replaced by 84-year-old former Minister of the Interior and Foreign Affairs Béji Caid Essebsi. In the government he appointed in March, he was alone in having been in power under Ben Ali. The new government announced that the security police and associated institutions would be scrapped. But protesters continued to demand faster reforms. In May and August riots broke out and hundreds of protesters were arrested.
Ben Ali and several members of his family and immediate circle were brought to trial in his absence. After a series of short trials, the prison sentence towered. The president and his wife Leila Trabelsi were sentenced to 35 years each and fined the equivalent of $ 66 million. for embezzling state property. Ben Ali was sentenced to a further 15 years for possession of drugs and illegal weapons, and later he and his son-in-law Sakher al-Materi were sentenced to 16 years each and $ 100 million in damages for fraudulent real estate deals. At the same time, Ben Ali’s daughter Nesrine Ben Ali was sentenced to eight years in prison for involvement in the same corruption scene. Ben Ali denied all accusations by his lawyers.
On October 23, the Tunisians went to elections to appoint a parliament with the task of appointing a new transitional government and within a year to draft a new constitution. The election had then been postponed due to difficulties in creating a voting length. RCD had been banned while other previously banned political parties, including the Islamist al-Nahda (Rebirth), had been given the go-ahead to attend.
In the elections, al-Nahda became the largest party with 41% of the vote and 89 of 217 seats. Second largest was two secular left parties, CPR (Congress for the Republic) with 29 seats and Ettakatol with 21. Several thousand domestic and foreign supervisors labeled the election democratic. Half of all candidates in all parties, in accordance with a new rule, were women.
The three largest parties agreed in November to appoint Hamadi Jebali from al-Nahda as new prime minister, Moncef Marzouki from CPR to president and Mustafa Ben Jaafar from Ettakatol as president of parliament. al-Nahda did everything possible to quell the outside world’s concern for radical Islamization. The party vowed to respect women’s freedom and not change the country’s relatively liberal family law. Both bikini and alcohol would remain allowed for both tourists and Tunisians, Jebali promised.
A fishing vessel on its way to Italy with 800 migrants from sub-Saharan countries capsized on June 2 off the Tunisian coast. 200 of the migrants drowned while the Tunisian coastguard and military rescued 570 people from the waves.