‘The New Tunisia’: A Work In Progress

Seven years on from the Revolution that overthrew Ben Ali, Tunisia ‘s political freedoms have vastly improved, but economic challenges remain immense.

Tunisia is where the Arab Spring began with the self-immolation of fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi in the hardscrabble inland town of Sidi Bouzid on 17 December 2010. Snowballing protests ultimately ended the 23-year rule of strongman ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on 14 January 2011.

Seven years on, Tunisia is one of the ‘freest’ countries in the Arab world. But you can’t eat freedom. Lack of progress on the key socio-economic factors that underlay the revolution – youth unemployment remains at well over 30% – means that these freedoms have been expressed in increasingly bitter protests.

Hikes to VAT and other taxes from 1 January led to protests across the country which in some areas descended into riots, though unrest has died down in recent days. (CONTINUED - 1336 WORDS)