Tunisia

The first round of the Tunisian presidential elections on 15 September, described as an “electoral insurrection,” was a heavy blow against all the parties that have in one way or another ruled the country since the revolutionary overthrow of Ben Ali in 2011. Nearly nine years later, none of the social and economic problems that sparked the revolution have been addressed. This was expressed through increased abstention (turnout was only 45 percent, 18 points lower than in 2014) and two “outsiders” going on to the second round, despite one of them being jailed for tax evasion during the campaign.

Las últimos semanas han visto el comienzo de un nuevo movimiento de la juventud tunecina, casi siete años después del derrocamiento del odiado régimen de Ben Alí, en 2011. Esta vez, el detonante de las protestas en todo el país se produjo con el anuncio de los presupuestos elaborados con las propuestas del FMI. Decenas de activistas han sido arrestados y un manifestante ha sido asesinado. El movimiento "Fech Nastannou?" (“¿A qué estamos esperando?”) es una clara demostración de que haber derrocado al dictador no resolvió automáticamente los problemas de pobreza, desempleo y falta de futuro, que desencadenaron el levantamiento de 2011.

The last few days have seen the beginning of a new movement of the Tunisian youth, almost seven years to the day after they overthrew the hated regime of Ben Alí in 2011. This time, a proposed budget, imposed by the IMF, has sparked protests around the country. Dozens of activists have been arrested and one protester killed. The “Fech Nastannou?” (what are we waiting for?) movement is a stark demonstration that having overthrown the dictator did not automatically solve the problems of poverty, unemployment and lack of a future that provoked the uprising in 2011.

We publish this article, written by a Tunisian comrade, which offers a criticism of the idea of a "national salvation government" as a solution to the current political crisis in the country, and argues instead for a revolutionary way forward. 

On the morning of Thursday, July 25, left wing nasserite Constituent Assembly member Mohamed Brahmi was assassinated outside his home in Tunis. A protest general strike has been called by the UGTT union, while the Popular Front has called for mass civil disobedience to bring down the government and disband the Constituent Assembly.

From the March 26th to 30th the 13th World Social Forum took place in Tunisia. Tens of thousands of activists from hundreds of organisations around the world came together in workshops and meetings on the campus of the university to discuss solutions to the social problems of the world.

On the morning of February 6th, the prominent left wing leader Chokri Belaïd was assassinated in front of his house in Tunis. Thousands have taken to the streets, attacked offices of the ruling Ennahda party, which they consider responsible for the assassination, and a general strike has been called for tomorrow, February 8th. This could be the incident that sparks a much needed second revolution, two years after the overthrow the hated Ben Alí regime.

Clashes between  protesters and the armed forces continue as the Tunisian town of Siliana enters the fourth day of a general strike led by the UGTT trade union federation. The clashes which have led to more than 300 injured have become a focal point for people all over Tunisia.

One year after the revolutionary overthrow of Ben Ali, Tunisia faces a wave of strikes, regional uprisings, sit-ins and protests of all sorts. For hundreds of thousands of Tunisian workers and youth who bravely defied the bullets of the dictatorship to get jobs and dignity nothing has fundamentally changed.

The conservative Islamist party Ennahda won a majority of seats (90 out of 217) in the elections to the Constituent Assembly in Tunisia on October 23. This result has sent many on the left into confusion. This represents a shift to the right, some argue. How can the Tunisian revolution end up in a victory for the right wing, ask others. Scandalously some “modernists” argue that “elections were premature”.

On Monday, March 7, Tunisia’s new prime minister Béji Caïd el Sebsi announced the composition of his government, the third since the overthrow of Ben Ali by the revolutionary uprising of the people on January 14. Essebi himself only came to power on February 27, after the resignation of Mohamed Ghannouchi, who had been Ben Ali’s prime minister and continued in the same role after his overthrow.

Hundreds of thousands marched today in the streets of the main cities and towns of Tunisia against the Gannouchi government and demanding a Constituent Assembly. According to the revolutionary youth which has taken the initiative of these demonstrations, 250,000 marched in the capital Tunis alone, and another 100,000 in other cities (video of demonstration in Sfax). A police source in Tunis gave the figure for demonstrators in the capital at “over 100,000”. The Red Crescent said that this was “the largest demonstration since the fall of Ben Ali”.

Today marks one month since the revolutionary overthrow of the hated dictator Ben Ali in Tunisia on January 14. The last month has been a constant struggle between the ruling class which wants to return to bourgeois normality and workers and youth who carried out the revolution and who are struggling to stop the old regime from trying to make a comeback.

Finally, after a long wait, prime minister Gannouchi announced changes in the government of national unity which was formed in Tunisia after the overthrow of Ben Ali. The masses of workers and youth, for two weeks, have been demanding the overthrow of this government, which they consider as a continuation of the old regime. They have staged massive regional strikes and demonstrations and a sit-in outside the government’s office. This new government of Gannouchi must also be rejected and the people take power into their own hands.

Wednesday, January 26 was marked by yet more massive demonstrations throughout Tunisia against the “national unity” government, whose key ministers come from the government of the hated dictator Ben Ali. The same dictator that the masses forced to flee two weeks ago.

Events over the weekend have shown the strength of the revolutionary movement in Tunisia and revealed the weakness of the national unity government. The organisation of a “Liberation Caravan” marching to the capital has the potential, if combined with a mass movement of demonstrations and strikes, to bring down the government.

On Friday, 14th January the revolutionary upsurge of the oppressed masses in Tunisia made history. Such was the intensity of the mass revolt that the autocratic and corrupt ruler Zine al Abidine Ben Ali had to scurry to the nearest airport to flee the country he had despotically ruled over for twenty three years. After being refused entry by his “friend” Sarkozy he was finally accepted by the Saudi monarchy. How apt this was!

While the “new” Tunisian government of “national unity” (in fact, stacked with Ben Ali ministers) had its first meeting on Thursday, January 20, and attempted to rush through a series of measures which would gain it some legitimacy, the revolution continues on the streets and in the workplaces with workers taking on anyone in authority who had links to the old Ben Ali regime.

Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 saw the continuation of mass demonstrations all over Tunisia against the “new” national unity government and demanding an end to the RCD ruling party. Tens of thousands marched throughout the country under the slogan “RCD degagé” (Out with the RCD), clearly identifying the national unity government as a continuation of the old regime.