jeudi, novembre 08, 2007

Tunisians celebrate 20-year Ben Ali rule..Commentators say Tunisian president takes credit for making Tunisia healthiest population in north Africa.

Supporters of Tunisian President Zine al Abidine are confident the veteran leader will make the Maghreb's most modern state more prosperous.

Streets in Tunis and other cities are decked with Tunisian red flags and portraits of Ben Ali and posters and other slogans declaring he would be the "best choice in 2009" elections.

Commentators say Ben Ali can take credit for making Tunisia the healthiest and best educated population in north Africa.

The country has north Africa's biggest middle class. More than two-thirds of households own homes. A fifth of the population own a car, up from a 10th two decades ago. Access to schools and basic health care are available to all.
"Tunisians do not suffer from poverty," said a political analyst.
"The political regime in Tunis had provided social stability during 20 years, adopting a liberal economic policy without harming the interests of Tunisia's large middle class", he added.

Ben Ali became president on November 7th, 1987, six weeks after becoming prime minister, when doctors declared president-for-life Habib Bourguiba, founder of modern Tunisia, senile and unfit to rule.

Tunisia's quiet atmosphere was hit at the turn of the year by rare shoot-outs between security forces and radical Salafist Islamists near Tunis in which 14 of the gunmen were killed.

The government bans Islamist parties on the grounds that political Islam is a cause of conflict and ultimately bloodshed.

Ben Ali said in March Tunisia must take more interest in developing its youth and "safeguard them against the currents of extremism, fatalism and terrorism".

The government insists it is committed to further democracy and liberty.

Multi-party politics began in the early 1980s and the government says it recently started granting legal opposition groups financial support to boost democracy.

The ruling party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally, dominates the legislature, as by law 80 percent of the seats in the 189-seat parliament are reserved for the ruling party. The remaining 20 percent are contested by six opposition parties.