Commentary: Tunisians wonder what happened to their revolution

It was young people who led the revolution, through their use of social media tools many of their elders barely understand.

Today, the country is being led by dinosaurs.

How could this happen? Our new prime minister is 85 years old. It’s true that Beji Caid Sebsi is a respected politician — he dared to defy former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Still, there is a sense that little has actually changed since the revolution.

So far, many people are dissatisfied with the transitional government. Many wonder why those who served under Ben Ali have yet to face charges. And while it’s generally agreed that Ben Ali, along with his family and cronies, looted the country of billions of dollars, as of yet there has been no serious effort to bring him to justice.

Yes, the secret police force has been disbanded. But why have no charges been brought against those who in the past tortured prisoners or opened fire on demonstrators during the recent uprising? Instead, the government recently arrested several people who had called for another revolution on their Facebook page. They were accused of promoting violence and chaos in the country before being released.

Is the transitional government really more concerned about what people are saying on Facebook than prosecuting former officials who brutalized the country? Taken together, all these small details add to a growing sense of discontent.

When combined with the country’s shattered economy, it should come as no surprise that tens of thousands of Tunisians have chosen to flee their country, primarily for Italy and France.

It’s in Europe’s interests to help Tunisia gain its economic footing. The European Union is off to a good start by offering to finance some reconstruction projects. Others argue that the EU should consider either canceling or deferring Tunisia’s debts.

And there is still that matter of the fortune amassed by former president Ben Ali that is believed to be tucked away in European banks.

So, while neighboring nations emulate our uprising, they’d also be wise to carefully watch what happens here after the revolution.

• Jlidi is an activist in Tunisia who writes for The Institute for War & Peace Reporting, a nonprofit organization that trains journalists in areas of conflict.


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