TUNISIA
Tunisian Republic
Al Jumhuriyah at Tunisiyah
Joined United Nations:  12 November 1956
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
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Updated 23 September 2012
CAPITAL
POPULATION
CHIEF OF STATE
SELECTION PROCESS
Tunis
10,732,900 (July 2012 est.)
Moncef Marzouki
Interim President since 13 December 2011
President elected by Constituent Assembly; election last held on
12 December 2011

Next scheduled election: 20 March 2013
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
SELECTION PROCESS
Hamadi Jebali
Prime Minister since 14 December 2011
Prime minister appointed by the president
DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ETHNIC GROUPS
Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%
RELIGIONS
Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%
GOVERNMENT
STRUCTURE
Republic comprised of 24 governorates; Legal system is based on French civil law system and Shari'a law; some
judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court in joint session
Executive: President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held 12 December 2011 (next
to be held 20 March 2013); prime minister appointed by the president
Legislative: Unicameral Constituent Assembly (217 seats); note - this interim legislative body was formed and
members elected following Tunisia's 2010-11 political revolution
elections last held: 23 October 2011 (next to be March 2013)
Judicial: Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation
LANGUAGES
Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)
BRIEF HISTORY
ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
Tunisia has a diverse, market-oriented economy, with important agricultural, mining, tourism, and manufacturing sectors
but faces an array of challenges. Following an ill-fated experiment with socialist economic policies in the 1960s, Tunisia
successfully focused on bolstering exports, foreign investment, and tourism. Key exports now include textiles and
apparel, food products, petroleum products, chemicals, and phosphates, with about 80% going to the European Union.
Tunisia achieved four decades of 4-5% annual GDP growth. As the presidency wore on, cronyism and corruption
under former President Zine el Abidine BEN ALI (1987-2011) stymied economic performance and unemployment
rose among the university's graduates. In January 2011 BEN ALI was overthrown, sending Tunisia's economy into a
tailspin. The country's newly elected government faces immediate challenges stabilizing the economy. It must reassure
businesses and investors, bring budget and current account deficits under control, shore up the country's financial
system, bring down high unemployment, and reduce economic disparities between the more developed coastal region
and impoverished interior.
Source:
CIA World Factbook (select Tunisia)
POLITICAL CLIMATE
Tunisia is noteworthy for its lack of public political discourse. The precise political situation in Tunisia is hard to
determine, due to the effective level of silence the government has enforced and the lack of transparency. There is
strong evidence that dissidents are routinely arrested, for crimes as minor as looking at banned web sites. The growth
of the Internet has been a major issue for Tunisia, with European tourists and internet service providers so close by.
Tunisia allows only censored Internet access in its own country. This censorship bars all materials deemed
pornographic, political opposition including many French online papers, and any chat group references critical of the
government. It seems unlikely that the oppression brought to bear is restricted only to the Internet. Tunisia has no free
press and Tunisians are almost never willing to speak about politics. The Internet has only made public the pervasive
structure of state control which has managed to shroud itself in a western friendly face, welcoming masses of tourists
who can even enjoy topless beaches. As for the underground opposition from Islamic Fundamentalists, these groups
have an obvious but not clear existence in the nation. Under former Habib Bourguiba Islamic Fundamentalists were
allowed to serve as a counter to more left wing movements. In 1987 the threat from Movement of the Islamic
Tendency gave the pretext for current president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to take power in a bloodless coup. Ben Ali
has followed an aggressive policy regarding the Fundamentalists but the extent of any government success is difficult to
judge in a nation where so much is secret. Because of a widespread program of interrogation and suppression the
Islamic Fundamentalist movements have gone underground, but not vanished. As with almost all Islamic nations the US
invasion of Iraq has greatly increased the prestige and public support for these groups, though the extent of these
feelings are impossible to determine accurately. While the threat of Islamic Terror exists in Tunisia, and as long as
President Ben Ali uses any means to fight it, there is little chance that pressure for genuine democracy and reform will
come from the west.

The 2010–2011 Tunisian protests consists of protests that are being held in Tunisia. They were street demonstrations
that took place throughout Tunisia during 2010–2011. The demonstrations and riots were reported to have started
over unemployment, food inflation, corruption, freedom of speech and poor living conditions. The protests ultimately
culminated in the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who stepped down from the presidency and fled Tunisia
on 14 January 2011 after 23 years in power.

The protests began in December 2010 after Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire after police confiscated his produce
cart. The protests constituted the most dramatic wave of social and political unrest in Tunisia in three decades and have
resulted in scores of deaths and injuries. Following Ben Ali's departure, elections for a Constituent Assembly were held
on 23 October 2011. Results were announced on 25 October 2011 with the center-right and moderately Islamist
Ennahda winning a plurality with 37% of the vote.
Source:
Wikipedia: Politics of Tunisia
INTERNATIONAL
DISPUTES
None reported.
U.S. State Department
United Nations Human
Rights Council
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Freedom House
REFUGEES AND
INTERNALLY
DISPLACED PERSONS
(IDP)
None reported.
ILLICIT DRUGS
None reported.
Ligue Tunisienne de Defense
de Droits de l'Homme
U. S. STATE
DEPARTMENT
HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
2011 Human Rights Report: Tunisia
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012

Tunisia is a constitutional republic. After the revolution that deposed former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali’s two-decade-long
regime on January 14, interim Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi first led an interim government, followed by Prime Minister
Beji Caid Essebsi, who presided over the government and preparations for the country’s October 23 Constituent Assembly
elections. The country held free and fair elections on October 23 for the Constituent Assembly, which was mandated to draft a
new constitution and appoint a new government. Civilian and military security forces reported to civilian authorities.

Ben Ali’s departure created an unprecedented opening for respect for human rights in the country. Previous restrictions on
freedoms of the press, expression, assembly, and association under Ben Ali’s 23-year dictatorship largely ceased, and citizens
enjoyed new liberties as they prepared for and participated in the country’s first open, inclusive, and democratic election. Exiled
political and human rights activists returned, imprisoned political prisoners were released, and civil society and human rights
activists pursued their work without government disruption or intimidation.

Women vastly increased their political participation, but they continued to face significant societal barriers to their economic
participation. There were reports of security officials using excessive force in arresting protesters, and poor prison conditions
persisted. There were also reports of security officials not following legally established arrest procedures and continued concern
about judicial independence.

At year’s end the government was pursuing legal action against Ben Ali-era officials accused of committing human rights abuses,
as well as those suspected of corruption, but this process had not been completed. Some individuals eluded prosecution by fleeing
the country, including Ben Ali.
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UNITED NATIONS
HUMAN RIGHTS
COUNCIL
13 May 2011
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Fifth session
11-15 April 2011
Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 35 of the Convention
Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Tunisia

I.        Introduction
2.        The Committee welcomes the initial report of Tunisia, which was one of the first States to ratify the Convention and its
Optional Protocol, as well as the written replies to the list of issues (CRPD/C/TUN/Q/1/Add.1). The two documents enabled the
Committee to gain a better understanding of the implementation of the Convention in the State party.
3.        The Committee highly appreciates the presence of the delegation for the dialogue, despite the country being in a transitional
situation since the democratic revolution of 14 January 2011, and welcomes the open dialogue with a competent delegation
representing several segments of the Government, and including an expert with disabilities among its members.

II.        Positive aspects
4.        The Committee notes with appreciation that the initial report was prepared in a process of extensive national consultations,
including with disabled persons’ organizations.
5.        The Committee welcomes the measures taken by the State party to initiate harmonization of domestic law and policy with
the Convention, including the adoption of:
(a)        Law No. 83 of 15 August 2005 on the advancement and protection of persons with disabilities;

III.        Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
7.        The Committee notes that the implementation of some aspects of the Convention might be influenced by the uncertainty and
rapidly changing situation in the State party, following the democratic revolution. It notes the far-reaching institutional changes
taking place in recent months, and views those changes as a unique opportunity for persons with disabilities to take part in the
building of a new country.

IV.        Principal areas of concern and recommendations
      A.        General principles and obligations (arts. 1 and 4)
8.        The Committee notes Order No. 3086 of 29 November 2005, defining disability and setting forth the proof required to
obtain a disability card, and the State party’s endeavour to shift from a medical approach to a social approach.  However, it is
concerned at the risk of exclusion of persons who should be protected by the Convention, in particular persons with psychosocial
disabilities (“mental illness”) or intellectual disabilities, or others who are unable to obtain a disability card, either due to disability or
by association with a disability.
9.         The Committee invites the State party to review and reformulate the definition of disability based on the Convention.
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FREEDOM HOUSE
New Report: Lack of Institutional Reform Hinders Democratic Progress in the Middle East
Sep 17 2012

Nearly two years after a wave of popular uprisings began in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a lack of substantive
institutional reform has left states struggling to maintain democratic achievements, according to a new Freedom House report. The
findings illuminate reform failures that have contributed to recent violence across the MENA region.

Countries at the Crossroads 2012 analyzes the performance of 35 policy-relevant countries that are at a critical juncture between
democratic progress and deterioration. The best and worst performers in this year’s edition—Tunisia and Bahrain, respectively—
are in the MENA region, and the gap between them constitutes one of the largest intraregional divergences in the project. This gulf
is due in large part to the drastic contrast between the two governments’ commitments to strengthening democratic institutions.

“The weakness of the governance institutions in the Middle Eastern and North African countries covered in this year’s edition can
be seen in the riots occurring across the region and the authorities’ inability to respond effectively to unrest,” said Vanessa Tucker,
director for analysis at Freedom House. “After decades of corrupt and repressive rule, citizens in these states are facing brutal and
ineffective security forces, habitually divisive and confrontational politics, and a lack of productive avenues through which to lodge
their grievances and assert their rights.”

Middle East and North Africa findings:

   Tunisia, the clear frontrunner in the MENA region, made a discernible effort to relax restrictions on civil society, strengthen civil
liberties, and improve its electoral system. Though a number of problems remain, the transitional government made significant
progress in pursuing democratic reform through laws and institutions, thus establishing firm protections for newly won democratic
rights.
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AMNESTY
INTERNATIONAL
Press releases
25 June 2012
Tunisia: Extradition of former Libyan prime minister violates human rights

The extradition of former Libyan prime minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi from Tunisia puts him in danger of torture, unfair trial
and even extrajudicial execution, Amnesty International said on Monday as it criticised the authorities in Tunis for their decision.

Al-Mahmoudi, who served as prime minister under Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi from March 2006 until he fled to Tunisia last year, was
reportedly handed over to Libyan officials in Tunis on Sunday, and taken to a Libyan prison by helicopter.

Amnesty International had repeatedly urged the Tunisian authorities, including the President and Prime Minister, not to extradite
him, arguing he could be subjected to human rights violations in Libya.

“Amnesty International condemns the decision of the Tunisian authorities to send al-Mahmoudi back to Libya, where he faces a real
risk of torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trial and possibly extrajudicial execution,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty
International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Amnesty International is also concerned that al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi may face the death penalty in Libya, which the organization
opposes in all cases as the ultimate violation of the right to life.

“While all perpetrators of human rights violations must be brought to justice, by extraditing al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, Tunisian
authorities have not only violated their own law but also their international obligation not to return anyone to a country where they
are at risk of human rights violations,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

“Whoever is found responsible for authorizing this extradition, and for violating the absolute prohibition on returning someone to a
risk of torture, must be held to account.”

The former Libyan prime minister travelled to Tunisia after Colonel al-Gaddafi's forces lost control of Tripoli in August last year.
He was arrested in late September and sentenced to six months’ impriso
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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Tunisia: Fix Serious Flaws in Draft Constitution
Provisions Inconsistent With Human Rights
September 13, 2012

(Tunis) – The Tunisian National Constituent Assembly should modify articles in the draft constitution that undermine human rights,
Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the members of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA). The provisions that cause
concern would abridge rights including freedom of expression, women’s rights, the principle of non-discrimination, and freedom of
thought and conscience.

The constitution, as drafted by six assembly committees and made public on August 8, 2012, is currently before a coordinating
committee of the assembly that will prepare it for presentation to the full assembly for debate and a vote. The shortcomings in
human rights protections largely concern the status of international human rights conventions ratified by Tunisia, freedom of
expression, freedom of thought and belief, equality between men and women, and non-discrimination, Human Rights found in an
analysis of the proposals.

“If passed with these articles intact, the constitution will undermine freedom of expression in the name of protection of ‘sacred
values,’ provide a basis for chipping away at the country’s proud record on women’s rights, and weaken in other ways Tunisia’s
commitment to respect international human rights treaties it has signed,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa
director at Human Rights Watch.

The National Constituent Assembly, elected on October 23, 2011, has as its main task the drafting and adoption of a new
constitution, to be followed by legislative and presidential elections.

A coordinating committee consisting of the assembly president and the six chairs of the constitution-drafting committees is tasked
with reconciling the sections of the draft submitted by these committees and forging from these a complete version to present to
the full assembly.


The rules set by the assembly for adopting the constitution require a discussion of the draft by the full assembly, followed by a
separate vote on each article of the constitution, with an absolute majority – 109 votes out of 217 members – required for adoption.
Then the assembly must approve the entire draft in a separate vote, by a two-thirds majority.

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OFFICIAL
GOVERNMENT HUMAN
RIGHTS STATEMENT
TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH BY GOOGLE TRANSLATE
Constituent second debate with Ali Larayedh

20 September 2012


The debate between the constituents and the Interior Minister Ali Larayedh continued Thursday, regarding the incidents last week at
the American Embassy in Tunis.

For Zied Laadhari, it is imperative to treat these events as a statesman and not be swayed by political considerations.

The purpose of our discussion, he said, is to reveal the truth and bring the perpetrators of these acts, calling the Ministry of the
Interior and the State to act decisively to enforce the law and prestige of the State. He also asked the political class not to raise
tensions.

For its part, the constituent Mohamed Tahar Ilahi noted that the Ministry of Interior is responsible for safeguarding security and to
deal with any act likely to tarnish the image of Tunisia. The ministry, he added, is responsible for enforcement requesting information
about the measures taken by the Ministry of the Interior to ensure the safety of citizens within and outside the country. "It is
imperative to summon the ambassadors of the countries whose citizens have attacked Islam and express their rejection of these
violations," said his side Samir Ben Amor. He also asked the Ministry to present the practical measures that have been adopted to
protect the U.S. embassy and reveal the reasons behind the delays were the intervention of the police.

For its part, the constituent Rafik Tlili questioned the relationship between the U.S. embassy protesters and those who have raised
arms against the security forces and the army. For its part, maintained that Sana Merseni may have the right to demand the resignation
of Interior Minister but has accused the opposition of act to exacerbate the climate in the country and plotting against the safety of
Tunisia.

The opinion of Merseni caused criticism from some constituents belonging to the opposition which Jeribi Maya. During the debate,
Ferida Laabidi questioned the absence of any event organized by political parties, associations, organizations or other components of
civil society to denounce violations of the prophet. "The U.S. embassy incidents are the result of the catastrophic security policy
conducted by the Ministry of the Interior for ten months" stated Chokri Yaïch. "This policy is dictated by a known wing within the
party in power and reflects collusion with extremists causing bad feeling among the demobilized forces," he added. He also said that
the Government is a dangerous due to its inability to conduct the affairs of the country adequately. "It is imperative that the Ministries
of Justice and Interior away from politicization and return them to independent people," he recommended.
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LE MEDIATEUR
ADMINISTRATIF EN
TUNISIE
TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH BY GOOGLE TRANSLATE
Tunisia: Activity Report of ombudsman - For administration closer to citizens
June 30, 2011

The President ai, Fouad Mebazaa, became aware, yesterday, receiving the ombudsman, Saida Rahmouni, 18th report of activities of
this institution entitled "Administrative Mediation: intake and fairness to the citizen".

The ombudsman said the meeting served to discuss the motions filed with the ombudsman's services for 2010 at central and
regional levels.

She emphasized the interest granted by the President of the Republic of the need to strengthen the trust relationship between the
citizen and the administration through the ombudsman and to consider the human dimension in the treatment of problems while
being responsive to citizens' concerns.

The report emphasized the importance of establishing the principle of dialogue within the organization, administration and society.
The administration should be closer to the citizen, to show understanding to face his problems and work towards it justice and give
him his rights, she said.
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LIGUE TUNISIENNE DE
DEFENSE DES DROITS
DE L'HOMME/ TUNISIAN
HUMAN RIGHTS
LEAGUE
TRANSLATED FROM ARABIC BY GOOGLE TRANSLATE
Tunisia, the President of the LTDH tip slips and calls for dialogue
Posted Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 11:56

Abdessatar MoussaAbdessatar Ben Ben Moussa, president of the Tunisian League for Human Rights, said yesterday at a press
conference, supported by Assabah his concern that "the dialogue expected the National Constituent Assembly with civil society 14
and 15 September 2012 does not correspond to simple auditing sessions for civil society to say what she wants, and that the
Constituent Assembly to do what she wants. " He explained his fear that "the committees of the ANC have listened to many
organizations and associations that were ultimately surprised that the first draft of the constitution has marginalized many of their
comments and constructive suggestions."

The President of the LTDH also stressed that "increasing his fear is what has happened to the ANC during the vote of the action
program of the Commission of Inquiry into the events of 09 April, when many Ennahdha MPs have expressed strong reservations
on the testimony of the LTDH, considering as politicized and unreliable. " He called this position "strange and unacceptable to,
which will make the formal dialogue and unnecessary."

According to Ben Moussa, "the current situation of Rights and Freedoms in Tunisia inspired by concern over a connection, either in
terms of the constitution and the laws, or of transitional justice and its attributes, with the return of safe handling and the judiciary,
and the spread of the phenomenon of organized violence. " He further noted that "the first draft of the constitution is littered with
partisan considerations and ignores the concerns and fears of the civil society."

"The preamble did not mention the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles contained in human rights and freedoms
establish the restriction of freedoms and the retreat from equality, and by conditioning the exercise of certain freedoms to the
requirement not to touch the sacred symbols, civil peace, public order, public security, which is ambiguous concepts, vague and
open to interpretation contradictory " , he said.

He also added that "the preservation of the identity of the law and the authority took the ascendancy in the first draft of constitution
in relation to the protection of freedoms that should be guaranteed by the constitution."

He even lamented that "the authorities reconnect with safe practices and arbitrary policy of collective punishment exercising the
security and justice to deal with peaceful social movements, those who refuse the continued marginalization and lack the most basic
attributes of a decent life. "

The President of the LTDH believes that "this transitional period saw the suppression of press freedom, art and creation, to the
extent where many journalists were tried, and some were imprisoned, and it is not based on the decree organizing the freedom of
the press, but on the basis of law enforcement used by the former regime. "

Abdessatar Ben Moussa deplored "the lack of political will to counter attacks against the Salafist rights and freedoms, which
encouraged these people to continue their attacks against journalists", intellectuals, artists, men letters, and even against those who
do not share their views, he said in substance. "Although voices have been raised about the need for action to stop these attacks,
despite government statements about it, the promises have not been translated into action," he added.

According to the president of the LTDH, "if all players do not sit around a table for a transparent and frank national dialogue away
from partisan considerations, the future of the country will face the dangers of conflict and of anarchy. " Hence the call LTDH the
authorities to immediately open a comprehensive national dialogue, he said in substance.
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In 814 BC the city of Carthage was founded in present-day Tunisia. From 700 to 409 BC there were repeated
conflicts between Carthage and Greece over spheres of influence and trade routes. Under the Magonid dynasty the
Carthaginians dominated the western Mediterranean but the Greeks regained the upper hand at the Battle of Imera in
480 BC. Skirmishes between Greeks and Carthaginians in Sicily spilled over to mainland Tunisia in 311 BC when the
Greeks invaded Cap Bon. Carthage became a major rival to the Roman Republic for the domination of the western
Mediterranean in the 4th century B.C., leading to the First Punic War. From 218 to 202 BC the Second Punic War
ravaged the region, with Hannibal crossing the Alps to attack Rome. Carthage was eventually destroyed during the
Third Punic War, and Tunisia was made part of the Roman Empire and its citizens sold into slavery. In 44 BC Julius
Caesar landed in Tunisia in pursuit of Pompey and Cato the Younger, who had gained the support of the Numidian
king Juma I. After Caesar's defeat of the rebels at the battle of Thapsus, much of Numidia was annexed. During the 1st
and 2nd century AD Carthage was rebuilt under the supervision of Augustus, and several new towns were founded,
often on the remains of old Punic settlements. This process of development was accelerated after Septimus Severus
became the first African emperor of the Roman Empire in 193 AD. Early in 238, local landowners ignited a full-scale
revolt in the province. An Arab Muslim army entered Tunisia in 670 under the command of uqba ibn Nafa with
permanent intentions. Arriving by land the Arabs passed the Byzantine strongholds along the coast. They founded the
city of Kairouan, using it as a base to subdue individual pockets of Christian and Berber resistance. Tunisia was
considered a natural center for an Arab-Islamic regime and society in North Africa. It was the only region that had the
urban, agricultural, and commercial infrastructures essential for a centralized state. After several generations a local
Arab aristocracy emerged, which was resentful of the distant caliphate's interference in local matters. A minor rebellion
in Tunis in 797 took on a more ominous nature when it spread to Kairouan. The caliph's governor was unable to
restore order, but Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab, a provincial leader, had a well-disciplined army and could. He proposed to
the caliph Harun al-Rashid, that he be granted Ifriqiya as a hereditary fief, which he was acquiesced. Ibrahim bin
al-Aghlab and his descendants, known as the Aghlabids, ruled Tunisia, Tripolitania, and eastern Algeria on behalf of the
caliph from 800 to 909. Anarchy made Tunisia a target for the Norman kingdom in Sicily, who between 1134 and
1148 seized Mahdia, Gabes, Sfax, and the island of Jerba. 1270 an attempted invasion by Louis IX of France was
repulsed. Tunisia prospered through increasing European and Sudanese trade under Al-Mustansir, who used the
money to transform Tunis, his capital, with a palace and the Abu Fihr park. The estate he created near Bizerte was said
to be without equal in the world. In 1492 Muslim and Jewish migration from Spain culminated in the fall of Muslim
Granada. The new comers brought much-needed skills in agriculture and crafts. From 1534 to 1581 Tunisia become a
pawn in power struggles between Spain and Turkey, and in 1574 it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire. The
Tunisian state was rebuilt by the imposition of Ottoman rule in the late 16th century. The Ottomans made Tunisia a
province of their empire in 1574, and garrisoned Tunis with 4,000 Janissaries recruited from Anatolia, reinforced by
Christian converts to Islam from Italy, Spain, and Provence. In the 19th century, the country became mostly
autonomous, although officially still an Ottoman province. In 1861, Tunisia enacted the first constitution in the Arab
world, but a move toward a republic was hampered by the poor economy and political unrest. In 1869, Tunisia
declared itself bankrupt, and an international financial commission with representatives from France, United Kingdom,
and Italy took control over the economy. In the spring of 1881, France invaded Tunisia, claiming that Tunisian troops
had crossed the border to Algeria, France's main colony in Northern Africa. Italy, also interested in Tunisia, protested,
but did not risk a war with France. On May 12 of that year, Tunisia was officially made a French protectorate.
Nationalist sentiment increased after World War I. The nationalist Destour Party was set up in 1920. Its successor the
Neo-Destour Party, established in 1934 and led by Habib Bourguiba, was banned by the French. During World War
II, the French authorities in Tunisia supported the Vichy government which ruled France after its capitulation to
Germany in 1940. After losing a string of battles to Bernard Montgomery in 1942, and then hearing of the landings
during Operation Torch, Erwin Rommel retreated to Tunisia and set up strong defensive positions in the mountains to
the south. Overwhelming British superiority eventually broke these lines, although he did have some success against the
"green" American troops advancing from the west. The fighting ended in early 1943, and Tunisia became a base for
operations for the invasion of Sicily later that year. It was very important in World War II. Violent resistance to French
rule boiled up in 1954. Independence from France was achieved on March 20, 1956, as a constitutional monarchy
with the Bey of Tunis, Muhammad VIII al-Amin Bey, as the king of Tunisia. Prime Minister Habib Bourguiba abolished
the monarchy in 1957 and established a strict state under the Neo-Destour (New Constitution) party. He dominated
the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other
Arab nation. President Bourguiba was overthrown and replaced by Prime Minister Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on
November 7, 1987. President Ben Ali changed little in the Bourguibist system.  In 1988 Ben Ali tried a new tack with
reference to the government and Islam, by attempting to reaffirm the country's Islamic identity by releasing several
Islamists activists from prison. In recent years, Tunisia has taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations.
The Tunisian revolution was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking
place in Tunisia. The events began on 18 December 2010 and led to the ousting of longtime President Zine El Abidine
Ben Ali in January 2011 eventually leading to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic
elections which saw the victory of a coalition of the islamist Ennahda Movement with the Centre-Left Congress for the
Republic and the Left-leaning Ettakatol as junior partners. The demonstrations were precipitated by high
unemployment, food inflation, corruption, a lack of freedom of speech and other political freedoms and poor living
conditions. The protests constituted the most dramatic wave of social and political unrest in Tunisia in three decades
and have resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of which were the result of action by police and security forces
against demonstrators. The protests were sparked by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi on 17 December 2010
and led to the ousting of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali 28 days later on 14 January 2011, when he officially
resigned after fleeing to Saudi Arabia, ending 23 years in power. Labour unions were said to be an integral part of the
protests. The protests inspired similar actions throughout the Arab world; the Egyptian revolution began after the events
in Tunisia and also led to the ousting of Egypt's longtime president Hosni Mubarak and a full-scale civil war in Libya
that led to the ousting and death of Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years of his rule; furthermore, uprisings in Bahrain, Syria
and Yemen and major protests have also taken place in Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Israel's borders, Iraq and
Mauritania as well as elsewhere in the wider North Africa and Middle East. Following Ben Ali's departure, a state of
emergency was declared. The Constitutional Court affirmed Fouad Mebazaa as acting president under Article 57 of the
Constitution. A caretaker coalition government was also created, including members of Ben Ali's party, the
Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), in key ministries, while including other opposition figures in other ministries,
with elections to take place within 60 days. However, five newly appointed non-RCD ministers resigned almost
immediately, and daily street protests in Tunis and other towns around Tunisia continued, demanding that the new
government have no RCD members and that the RCD itself be disbanded. On 27 January Prime Minister Mohamed
Ghannouchi reshuffled the government, removing all former RCD members other than himself. On 6 February the new
interior minister suspended all party activities of the RCD, citing security reasons. The party was dissolved, as
protesters had demanded, on 9 March 2011 Following further public protests, Ghannouchi himself resigned on 27
February, and Beji Caid el Sebsi became Prime Minister; two other members of the Interim Government resigned on
the following day. On 3 March 2011, the president announced the elections for the Constituent Assembly, which were
held on 23 October 2011 with the Islamist Ennahda Party winning the plurality of seats.
Sources: Wikipedia History of Tunisia; Wikipedia: Tunisian Revolution
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TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS
None reported.