Saturday, 15 January 2011

Parlimentary Shuffleboard Tunisia

A few quick notes on what's going on in Tunisia right now (for actual news, see the link below)

- President Ben Ali flees country after 24 years in power looking for safe haven. First to France where he's denied by Sarkozy then scattered reports that he was in Malta, Sardinia, UAE & Dubai before it was confirmed that he'd been accepted in Saudi Arabia

- Last official act of former President was to name his sitting Prime Minister Ghannouchi the acting President. According to the Tunisian constitution, Ghannouchi was 2nd in the line of succession behind the Speaker of Parliment and this has angered many people who see Ghannouchi as a carry-over of the Ben Ali regime.

- It now appears that the Speaker of Parliment Mebazaa and constitutional successor has assumed temporary control and will be calling for legally mandated elections in 60 days.

- A few questions remain in my mind.
1. Just how much did Bin Ali & Family abscond with ? The recent revelations of the extent of corruption in the former presidency may have been the tipping point in the public mood but has anyone been able to quantify that ?
2. If the former President indeed plans to stay in Saudi Arabia, what funds will he & his family be living on ? Saudi is not an inexpensive place to live and while their hospitality is legendary, it does have it's limits.
3. Apparently France has already blocked several some financial transactions linked to Bin Ali but surely there are other accounts. What will become of those funds and will the various banks repatriate the funds to Tunisia's new government or did Ali escape with his life & his fortune ?
4. In light of reports of continued looting (some police apparently participating) and violence and a lack of civil control, when will things calm down enough for the country to "take a collective breath" ? 
5. How quickly will the World's leaders extend a helping hand (I hope only as requested) and recognize the new reality of Tunisia and it's people's demand for freedom ?
6. What impact will this event have on other regional "sore spots" ? There's already been demonstrations in Egypt, Jordan and who knows where else ? As Churchill put it "This is not the end, not the beginning of the end, but maybe the end of the beginning" (or something like that)

I guess time will tell. Now for the real news by the people on the ground, click below.


Tunisia's Ben Ali flees amid unrest - Africa - Al Jazeera English

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