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Tunisia, nine years on from its Arab Spring revolt

By AFP - Oct 13,2019 - Last updated at Oct 13,2019

A Tunisian policeman stands guard outside a polling station in the capital Tunis on Sunday during the second round of the presidential election (AFP photo)

TUNIS — Demonstrations erupt in central Tunisia in December 2010 after the self-immolation of a fruit seller protesting police harassment and unemployment.

After weeks of unrest in which 338 people are killed, dictator Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali flees in January 2011, ending 23 years in power.

He is the first leader to be toppled by the Arab Spring, which spreads through the region like wildfire.


Victory for Islamists 


In October 2011, Tunisia's first free election sees Islamist group Ennahdha win 89 of 217 seats in a new constituent assembly.

The assembly elects former opposition leader Moncef Marzouki as president in December. Hamadi Jebali, Ennahdha's number two, is charged with forming a government.


Attacks, unrest 


In April 2012, police clash with thousands of jobless protesters in the south-western mining belt.

More violent demonstrations follow in June and August, with militants also staging attacks.

In September, hundreds of demonstrators attack the US embassy, angered by an online US-made film that mocked Islam.

A series of strikes and demonstrations impact industry, public services, transport and business, with unrest mostly concentrated in the economically marginalised interior.



leaders killed 


In February 2013, prominent leftist opposition leader Chokri Belaid is assassinated in Tunis.

In July, fellow leftist Mohamed Brahmi is also shot dead.

Daesh terrorists claim both killings.


Democratic transition 


In January 2014, a new constitution is adopted, a year later than planned. A government of technocrats is formed and Islamists withdraw from power.

In October, the secular Nidaa Tounes Party led by Beji Caid Essebsi comes top in parliamentary polls and forms a coalition with Ennahdha.

Two months later, Essebsi wins Tunisia's first free presidential election.


String of attacks 


In 2015, Tunisia suffers three attacks claimed by Daesh terrorists.

The attacks leave 72 dead, mostly foreign tourists and security personnel, including at the Bardo museum in Tunis and a coastal resort.

In 2016, militants attack security installations in a town on the Libyan border, killing 13 members of the security services and seven civilians.

Fresh protests 


In January 2016, a new wave of protests erupts after the death of a young unemployed man in a demonstration.

In May, the International Monetary Fund green lights a new four-year loan of $2.9 billion.

In January 2018, protests erupt after an austerity budget takes effect.


Political instability 


Essebsi in September announces the end of his party's alliance with Ennahdha, which had been part of a unity government since 2016.

In July 2019, the ailing Essebsi dies aged 92, months before the end of his term.

In August, a newcomer to the political arena who is running for president in elections set for the following month, Nabil Karoui, is arrested on charges of money laundering.

He nonetheless comes second in the first round of the vote in September, with nearly 16 per cent behind independent law professor Kais Saied who has 18 per cent.

In legislative elections on October 6, Ennahdha takes the most seats — 52 out of 217, according to preliminary official results — but far short of the 109 needed to govern.


Voters go to the polls 


In a further twist, Karoui is released from jail on October 9, days ahead of the presidential run-off vote.

A rare televised debate pits the two finalists against each other at the 11th hour on October 11, before a media blackout comes into effect to end the campaign ahead of Sunday's run-off vote.

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