[For more on Tunisia in revolt, click HERE. Scroll down for earlier reports and analysis. ]
UGTT demands dissolution of 'unity government'
Statement of the National Administrative Commission of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) issued on January 21, 2011 (first published in English on MRZine).
The General Union of Tunisian Workers is a national organisation
necessarily interested in political affairs, given its history of
struggle during the colonial epoch and the period of the construction of
the modern state, considering the dialectical links among economy,
society, politics, and culture in the process of development, but out
task has become more urgent than ever.
The UGTT National Administrative Commission recalls that the withdrawal
of UGTT ministers from the government is due to the government's failure
to respond to the conditions set by the UGTT Executive Office in its 15
January 2011 statement, a position whose correctness has been proven
and which corresponds to the demands of masses of demonstrators and the
rest of the civil and political society.
3. In view of massive
demonstrations across the country demanding the dissolution of the
government and rejecting the participation of RCD representatives in it;
also in view of numerous resignations in response to the rejection by
various political parties and currents; and because of the urgent need
to restore the confidence of all in order to proceed to the effective
preparation for the reforms that have been announced; the members of the
UGTT National Administrative Commission demand the dissolution of the
government and the establishment of a "national salvation" coalition
government which responds to the demands of demonstrators, political
parties, associations, NGOs, and all the people.
4. The National
Administrative Commission decides, with a view to effectively taking
part in a commission for political reforms, to create trade union
committees composed of experts and specialists to work out UGTT
proposals on political, economic and social reforms necessary for the
establishment of democracy, as well as transparent elections to ensure
the freedom of choice, to lay the foundations for a parliamentary
government, and to permit dissemination of accurate information.
Moreover, the UGTT demands that members of its National Administrative
Commission be represented in the commission of inquiry on the killings
of innocent citizens during demonstrations, to bring those responsible
for them to justice, and be also represented in the commission of
inquiry on corruption and other crimes.
5. The UGTT calls upon
all workers to oppose all attempts to disrupt the normal functioning of
institutions and to obstruct their return to normal activity, as well as
to be on guard in defense of our achievements and to ensure the
continuation of necessary mechanisms for the management and conduct of
daily functions, in order to preserve the vital interests of the people
and to avoid the vacuum that does lasting damage to workers and
6. The UGTT reaffirms its commitment to continue to
wage the legitimate struggle, whether by striking or demonstrating
peacefully, until the government is restructured according to the
conditions set by the UGTT, which correspond to the demands of all
segments of the political spectrum as well as of the people.
The UGTT demands that the 14th of January be proclaimed as national
holiday, for the public and private sectors, for civil service, and for
all the sectors of people.
8. The UGTT urgently appeals to all
trade unionists and workers to preserve the unity of their organisation
in order to ensure the continuity of the struggle and achieve the
workers' demands, in interaction with the demands of protesters and the
general public, and to remain vigilant against all attempts to split our
ranks and to divide the unity of our decisions at this sensitive stage
in the history of our country.
Long live the struggle of our brave people on the path to dignity in Tunisia.
Tunis, 21 January 2011
Secretary General bdulsalam Jarad
* * *
January 20, 2011 -- Juan Cole's Informed Comment reports that stung by continued protests
against the Rally for Constitutional Democracy (RCD) party of deposed
president Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali, the members of that party in the
interim cabinet all resigned from it on the morning of Januray 20. The president
and prime minister had earlier left the party.
The government also announced the freeing of all political prisoners and the unbanning of political parties. Tweets are saying that people are gathering to chant and sing in protest on Bourguiba Avenue. Crowds are smaller than last week,
but people are still coming out to demand removal of RCD ministers.
Swiss banks have frozen Ben Ali’s accounts, and the government has seized the Zitoune Bank of Ben Ali’s son-in-law, as well as arresting members of Ben Ali’s clan.
Morning Star on January 20 reported that the Tunisian army fired a barrage of warning shots in the capital on January 20
as demonstrators converged on the headquarters of the ruling party. The party has dissolved its decision-making core following a wave of
departures by ministers desperate to keep their government jobs. Protesters climbed over the RCD
offices in Tunis and dismantled the sign bearing its name,
carrying off pieces of its red lettering.
Outside the gates of the party headquarters, the army fired
rounds into the air, scattering some protesters in the noisy but
peaceful crowd. The building was being protected by an army tank in addition to numerous lorries and troops.
The crowd of protesters swelled to at least 2000 people, many chanting
"The people want the government down!" Others waved loaves of bread to
symbolise their demand for cheaper food.
In a sign of the difficulties facing the interim government one minister, a former member of the ruling party, resigned on January 20. Four other ministers, three of whom were former
opposition activists named to the unity government, resigned earlier in
the week. Members of the interim government who belonged to the ruling party quit
the party on January 19. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi and interim president Fouad Mebazaa had already quit the RCD earlier in the week. Following the resignations the party dissolved its central committee,
which will continue to be run "provisionally" by its secretary-general
In another attempt to ease tensions the interim government has released all the country's political prisoners.
National television reported that least 33 members of Ben Ali's
family had been taken into custody as they tried to flee the country.
Prosecutors are investigating overseas bank accounts, real estate and
other assets held by Ben Ali, his wife Leila Trabelsi and other
The revolution continues?
By Dyab Abou Jahjah
January 18, 2011 -- Abou Jahjah commentsتعليقات أبو -- The regime led by Prime Minister and now acting
president Mohammed Ghannouchi is playing its last card today in Tunisia. That last card is the RCD (Rassemblement constitutionnel
démocratique, the party of the former dictator). After the formation
of a so-called “national unity government” yesterday, and after that
the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT,the largest trade union in the country) supported and even
participated in it with three ministers, alongside three opposition
ministers (from the legal opposition under the regime) many thought
that the Tunisian revolution ended up with a compromise. A compromise
that left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Tunisian people and
especially the youth who started this revolution and were determined to
sacrifice in order to see it through.
[Update January 18: Several ministers have withdrawn
from the unity government due to the inclusion of several hacks
from the former ruling party, the RCD, in the government. The ministers who have left are
UGTT leaders, apparently under pressure from protesters demanding
an end to the RCD's role in government. Junior minister for transportation and equipment Anouar Ben Gueddour
resigned along with labour minister Houssine Dimassi, and minister
without portfolio Abdeljelil Bedoui. The three ministers are all members of the Tunisian General Labour Union
(UGTT). They announced their withdrawal after the UGTT refused to recognise an
administration that contains eight ministers from former president Zine
El Abidine Ben Ali's discredited regime. Health minister Mustapha Ben Jaafar of the opposition Democratic Forum for Work and Freedom also resigned. It was not immediately clear if the resignations could bring down the government, which has 40 full and junior ministers. UGTT members and supporters took to the streets today and called for a
general strike, constitutional changes and the release of all imprisoned
knowing the composition of the government and the fact that it included
even the minister of interior of the regime who can be held responsible
among others for the killings, the revolutionary sentiment exploded
again. Arab nationalists, Islamists and radical leftists, but above all
normal Tunisians with no political agenda except their determination to
have a clean break with the past of repression decided to challenge
this government and demanded the outlawing of RCD and the formation of
a salvation government that even breaks with the constitution and
These are revolutionary demands by all means and many
people did not take them yesterday. However, people who know the high
level of political awareness that the Tunisian people possess
also knew that action will follow. Today all over the country
demonstrations are erupting forcing the UGTT to retreat from the
government and to embrace the revolutionary demands cited above. In many
places the popular committees clashed with the police and shoot outs
Tunisia will decide its direction in the coming days,
maybe hours. Will it be a revolution that goes all the way or a
compromise between a revolution and a regime that will keep many
contradictions under the surface and will sooner or later lead to
`Illegal' opposition leaders excluded from 'national unity' government
By Yasmine Ryan
January 18, 2011 -- Al Jazeera Blogs -- For all the talk of unity, two opposition parties have been excluded from the national coalition government that was announced January 17, with no immediate prospect of being integrated into what is being portrayed by some as a democratic opening.
Communist Workers’ Party of Tunisia (PCOT) is one of those parties.
Simply being a member of the PCOT has for many years meant the danger of
facing a prison sentence.
Hamma Hammami (pictured, right), the party’s spokesperson, was only freed from prison on Friday. "This
is a national government which has nothing national about it,” Hammami,
told Al Jazeera. “It’s intended to conserve the old regime in power
with all of its authoritarian institutions in place.”
why people are taking to the street with a new slogan ‘we don’t want the
RCD’”, he said, referring to one of the slogans taken up on Monday’s protests.
Hammami, like many other opposition leaders, former president Zine El
Abidine Ben Ali’s hasty departure is nowhere near enough. He called for
“the party of Ben Ali” to be disbanded completely, along with all its
“repressive apparatuses”. He called for a provisional government
to be established to help pave the way for the transition towards a
truly democratic republic.
The communist leader also had words
for the Tunisian Islamist movement. He argued that the uprising, which
had its one month anniversary on January 17, was a secular one, and called
on the Ennahdha party to accept this and not to bring “polemics over
theology” into the conversation.
“We want to keep the people
united over these aspirations”, Hammami said. “We’re calling on other
parties not to divide the people.”
As for Tunisia’s largest
Islamist party, it is not only not included in the government. Its
leader is being denied the right to return to Tunisian soil. Rached
Ghannouchi, the leader of al-Nahda, announced on January 15 that he would
be returning to Tunisia from his exile in London to join the unity
But Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi said today in a
statement that there’s no way his namesake -- no relation -- can come
back to his homeland unless a 1991 prison sentence is lifted.
Tunisia: Statement of the National Administrative Commission of the Tunisian General Union of Labor
Januray 18, 2011 -- Revitalising Labour -- The members of the National Administrative Commission of the Tunisian
General Trade Union (UGTT) held an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday,
January 18, 2011 in Gammarth, headed by the General Secretary comrade
Abdessalem Jerad. They analysed the rapid developments witnessed by the
country and assessed the sacrifices made by the trade unionists, the
workers, the population and the martyrs in the historical popular
uprising to resist injustice, oppression and delinquency. Since the
members of the Administrative Commission believe in the national and
social role, which has long been played by the labour organisation in the
struggle for freedom, justice and human rights, they:
1. Stand in humility and homage for the martyrs who perished during the
uprising of our people against oppression and tyranny, against the
protection of the corrupt gang that lived in our country and for the
resistance to an oppressive system based on abolishing public and
individual freedoms and human rights.
2. Remind that the
Tunisian General Trade Union was the first organisation that alerted the government through its studies and memoirs, and its speech to the
public, about the situation of tension and anger that has reached our
youth and our people as a result of the clumsy development policies
which led to unemployment and poverty and created a void in the social
and cultural development.
3. Stand in tribute and appreciation
for the solidarity between all the social classes in order to maintain
security and public property. They also stress the fact that the acts of
vandalism and looting were carried out by groups who were paid by
symbols of the presidential security and by spoilers from the family of
former president as well as his followers and relatives. They consider
that any attempts to divert the public opinion from the real
perpetrators of these acts of vandalism and looting represent a kind of
deception and obfuscation.
4. Call for the immediate freezing
of the accounts of the former president, his family and in-laws and the
nationalisation of their properties and to prevent all the suspects from
leaving the Tunisian territory waiting for the outcome of the
investigations that will be conducted by the committee formed for this
5. Stress the need for the announced political reforms
to be immediately effective, including the separation between political party and state, the passing of a general legislative amnesty, the
revision of the constitution and the electoral code and enabling all the
political sensitivities of their right to get organised and to exercise
their political activities freely, away from all the pressures and
6. Call for the creation of representative
structures with broad powers to monitor the implementation of the
immediate measures that were announced as well as the political,
economic and social reforms.
7. In order to reinforce the trade
unionist rights, according to the international conventions and the
local laws, the members of the Administrative Commission call for the
immediate dissolution of the professional divisions and their
federations since they are parallel structures that clearly damaged
worker relations and the social climate within the institutions of
production. They also stress the need to dissolve the structures of the
Constitutional Democratic Party (RCD) , a party that is still headed by former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
8. Ask for reviewing the terms of the right to demonstrate peacefully in
order to eliminate crippling strictures that limit people’s freedom to
protest against the adopted policies that contradict with their
interests and aspirations.
9. Despite the fact that the Tunisian
General Trade Union is keen [for] social and political reforms and to the
need to strengthen them, it considers that the composition of the
announced coalition government does not respond to the conditions set by
the Executive Bureau in the statement issued on Saturday, January
15, 2011 and does not correspond to the aspirations of the workers and the
population concerning real renewal, breaking off with the old practices,
and equilibriums. This is due to the number of representatives of
the previous government and the ruling party in the coalition government
as well as the marginalisation of the role of the representatives of
the Tunisian General Trade Union. The members of the Administrative
Commission announce the withdrawal of their representatives from the
coalition government, and the resignation of the union members from the
House of Representatives, the Council of Advisers and the municipal
councils as well as the freezing of the membership of the Tunisian
General Trade Union in the Economic and Social Council as well its membership in the Supreme Councils.
10. Reject all forms of external intervention to guide our people and to
influence them because the population who managed to overthrow a president who suppressed all those who upheld the right to freedom of
expression, is qualified to chart their own destiny away from
11. Call for working to form an elected
constituent assembly, through free and democratic elections, which
reflects the will of our people to build a better future.
12. Decide to give an amnesty to the trade unionists whose activity was suspended in all sectors and regions.
Tunis, January 18, 2011
General Secretary Abdessalem Jerad
The struggle for legitimacy
By Dyab Abou Jahjah
January 17, 2011 -- Abou Jahjah commentsتعليقات أبو -- In Tunisia, a new government is
being formed under the leadership of the RCD (the party of the fallen
dictator) and the participation of some legalised opposition parties.
All parties that were illegal under the old regimes are being excluded
and this is stirring up a lot of controversy among parts of the Tunisian
population who feel that the revolution is being driven away from its
The main view of the opposition is that the people who made the
revolution are not represented and that by keeping the RCD on board and
even on the steering wheel the former regime is perpetuating itself. On
the other hand the pro-coalition voices are stressing the fact that this
is only a transition necessary to avoid plunging the country in chaos.
some would argue that now that the revolution has deposed the tyrant the
country must seek reconciliation, and they also argue that the RCD has
hundreds of thousands of members and excluding them would exclude
important segments of society. However, most of these members were in
the RCD not for an ideology or a vision, but because a party card
was synonymous of personal advancement under the old regime. I wonder if
the RCD will have more than few thousands hard core Ben Ali loyalists if
things are left to take their natural course.
But even if the RCD would
be a real party with real supporters base, it is now the duty of these
people -- if they want national reconciliation -- to distance themselves
from the past and its crimes by changing their party name and going to
Why should national reconciliation be the
responsibility of the oppressed, many rightly ask. And they also believe
that the best strategy to use now is a transitional committee
representing all currents of the people and its trade unions and
excluding the RCD as such, while including some independents who are not
far from it and that this committee should lead the country into
transition towards a free and fair election where all the chances of all
the parties are equal.
is in my opinion the United States and the France that have certainly
played a role in convincing parts of the mild opposition to support
this government in order to guarantee continuation of the old economic
structure and its integration as a service economy for France, plus the
political and military alliance with the US and NATO.
The risk is that
this government will not be so transitory after all and will only serve
as an excuse to win more time and allow intelligence services and regime
loyalists to work on their strategy to take back control of the country,
albeit under another leader who will govern slightly different than
Ben Ali but will be just as autocratic and corrupt and pro-Western.
is a real risk and the people started protesting against
this government today and in Tunis the governmental police used tear
gas against the demonstrators.
Tunisia:`All Arab dictators are shaking on their thrones'
By Dyab Abou Jahjah
January 16, 2011 -- Abou Jahjah commentsتعليقات أبو
Tunisian revolution continues to dictate its own logic on all levels.
After attempts by regime leftovers to spread chaos by
several techniques (cars driving through the streets shooting at people
and houses, randomly destroying infrastructure, etc.), the Tunisian
people have organised themselves in committees that have spread all
across the country in every neighbourhood and in every city and started
streets and protecting the people. Popular committees even chased the
militias of the old regime and in one case in a shoot out a martyr fell
and two militiamen were executed by the people.
There are reports of
Israeli activity in Tunisia in support of the counter revolution,
also of infiltrators sent in from Libya to sabotage. It is not clear yet
if this is a pattern or independent isolated cases.
level the leftovers of the old regime are still officially in power and
they are negotiating with the fake opposition that always served as
decoration for the regime. However, the popular committees and the trade
unions and the real opposition are all working on changing this and
translating the revolution into political effects.
I believe it will not
take long before a political road map will be drawn towards preparing
elections. It is important to note that elections according the old
regime will not bring about change, so the real opposition and the
people are demanding changing the constitution first and then going
The Arab regimes are
shaking and the Arab people are euphoric even in places like Oman and
the Emirates. On Twitter, the Saudi youth are also showing support to
the Tunisian revolution and expressing shame for their country receiving
the tyrant. The Egyptian regime is delaying measures that were planned
to lift state [subsidies] for some basic goods, and Qadafi expressed his
regret and said the Tunisians should have kept Ben Ali for life. Qadafi is
clearly nervous about a real revolution on Libyan border unlike his own
On another level, the Egyptian opposition is now more
convinced that the answer is the street and nothing else. This revival
of the revolutionary ideal is universal all over the Arab world. In
Algeria there are reports of three cases of citizens
setting themselves on fire, one of them is reportedly dead. Egypt and
Algeria are looking to be the two Arab countries with the most resonance
of what happened in Tunisia.
Hezbollah saluted the Tunisian revolution
and asked all Arab leaders to draw conclusions from it. Internationally,
the French and the Americans issued statements that reveal a high level
of hypocrisy. They always supported the old regime knowing very well of
its nature as Wikileaks revealed and now they cannot sell us their
so-called support to the people’s choices. They do not like to see
revolutions unless they are orchestrated by the CIA and the CIA-financed
NGOs like in Ukraine, Georgia and Lebanon. This is a real
revolution and therefore they feel unsettled about it.
Some quick notes on the Tunisian revolution
By Dyab Abou Jahjah
January 14, 2011 -- Abou Jahjah commentsتعليقات أبو -- From
day one it was clear this is a revolution that is not about bread only,
it was also against dictatorship and corruption. The revolution was
supported by all segments of society. Poor, middle class and even upper
middle class. Especially the middle class showed its claws the last days
in Tunis. Many friends of mine who live there and who are university
students or employed in good positions were in the street also taking
tear gas and bullets. The youth played an important role in all this and
cell phones combined with Facebook connected through proxy services was
the media of the revolution.
The trade union played the role of the
momentum regulator and political indicator. It was clear that as long as
the trade union (UGTT) keeps on declaring strikes that the battle is
on, and that was the signal to the people to stick to the streets. Yet
we cannot say that the trade union led the revolution, it rather
synchronised with it especially the last crucial two days.
the political level there was no single party or current that played a
major role. The traditional opposition that is mainly in exile tried to
coordinate and even thought of a government in exile. But the momentum
of the revolution was even too fast for such plans to materialise.
people had no leader but itself. This however posed a problem for the
revolution as to how to organise transition of power. Who will take
over. There were only three options, an exile government, but that would
only on the long run, a military coup, or that some figure from the
institution will take over. Now it seems that the two
last options are still open.
Ghanoushi the prime minister is from within
the establishement but it is very likely that he will be in power for
few days only, some believe few hours. Rumours about General Ammar taking
over and appointing the speaker of the house Elmbazaa as caretaker until
elections are organised in 60 days are now circulating within the ranks
of the army and the political scene.
for possible attempts by the regime to regenerate itself, this can
maybe done through creating mayhem and chaos in the streets. Reports of
violence, looting, and arson are widespread at these moments. But
whether this can lead to a counterrevolutionary sentiment is very
unlikely. Also because people realise that these are the downsides of
any revolution, there is no birth without pain….
for the repercussions on the Arab world and beyond. They are
paramount. All Arab dictators are now shaking on their thrones.
Especially in the Maghreb countries, but also Mubarak in Eygpt will have a
sleepless night. The Arab peoples saw and know for sure what a
people can do. They saw another Arab people bring down the harshest of
dictators in less than a month. All what is needed is unity and
determination to go all the way. This will certainly lead to the revival
of revolutionary dreams among the Arab oppressed classes (middle class
and masses) and will start the dawn of democracy.
Americans and the Zionists but also France are nervous today, their best
friend in the area was kicked out. And
the people is heading to govern itself in Tunisia with its own agenda
with all the anti-imperialistic and anti-Zionist elements of that. A
free democratic Tunisia will not only be a model for democracy for all
Arabs, it will also be a safe haven for revolutionary powers and a place
of support for the resistance against Israel and the US. The
international alliance against empire hegemony will have another member.
Tunisia is a beautiful country that has a very highly educated
people, very critical and very vocal. Tunisians are both Maghreb and
Machrek, they look like all Arabs and they talk like all Arabs, they can
form the core of the Arab people for liberation. Tunisia can play the
role that Egypt is no more willing or able of playing. In the age of
democracy and freedom, Tunisia must export its revolution, but before
all, Tunisia must consolidate it and bring it to its happy end by
building a system based upon freedom, equality, diversity and
citizenship. A real state of law and a model to follow. I for one
believe that Tunisians are the best among all Arabs for this task. We
will all watch and learn.
[Dyab Abou Jahjah is founder and former president of the Arab European League. These article was first published in his blog Abou Jahjah Comments.]
Tunisia: the dictator has fallen, now it is time for the regime to fall!
By Marxy.com, Arabic website of the International Marxist Tendency
January 18, 2011 -- In the past days, Tunisia has
witnessed rapid developments, the most important of which was the
announcement by Prime Minister, Mohammad Al-Ghannoushi, that he was
taking over temporarily as President due to Ben Ali’s inability to carry
out his duties, and the announcement of a state of emergency in all
areas of the country. We publish here a translation of an Arabic
language article published on marxy.com as the dramatic events in
Tunisia were unfolding.
The following are the latest developments in Tunisia:
Events have been moving at an incredible speed in Tunisia. Yesterday
the old dictator gave his last speech, where he made a series of
promises, and a series of veiled threats. After this, reports rolled in
affirming that the masses had no confidence in these promises and
continued the protests even more fiercely. This morning Reuters received
reports of shots fired near the headquarters of the Interior Ministry.
There were also tear gas grenades fired against demonstrators in the
capital Tunis. Despite the dictator’s statement yesterday that he was
putting a stop to shooting at demonstrators, the killing did not stop
throughout the night and this morning, which caused the death of
thirteen martyrs last night in Tunis and its suburbs, as confirmed by Al
Jazeera from hospital reports.
But all these promises and all this repression did not lead to the
suppression of the popular revolution. For the dictator decided to play
his last cards when he announced the dismissal of the government and the
calling of early elections (in six months). But the masses continued
their struggle which provoked a military coup when the army’s forces
spread everywhere and announced a state of emergency in all corners of
Tunisia and took control of the airport and closed Tunisian airspace,
after helping the dictator and some of his family to escape the revenge
of the people.
This is when Mohammad Al-Ghannoushi named himself President of
Tunisia and announced that he would meet with representatives of
political parties to form a new government. The trade union bureaucracy
and the leaders of the reformist parties are even more terrified than
their bourgeois masters, and instead of adopting independent class
tactics, with independent class slogans and an independent banner, here
they are jumping onto the bourgeois train, singing with one voice the
song of the “national unity government”, i.e. the government of the
bourgeoisie and its murderers.
And the forces of the secret police and the fascist militias continue
to wreak havoc in the country, as they attack the masses and loot the
homes of the workers, in order to create a picture whereby the
alternative to dictatorship is chaos. These desperate attempts have not
frightened the masses but have only served to accelerate the formation
of neighbourhood committees of defence, and the secretary general of the
General Union of Tunisian Students, Shaker Al-Awadi, told Al Jazeera
that there are popular committees being formed in every neighbourhood.
Did Marx not say that the revolution needs the whip of the
counterrevolution to move forward? From the moment of the overthrow of
the dictator Ben Ali, imperialism abandoned him like a rabid dog and let
him fall. The United States announced that “the Tunisian people have
the right to choose their leaders”! Obama announced that he “praises the
bravery and the dignity of the Tunisian people”, and France refused
entry to his plane! And the forces of the Tunisian police arrested some
of the members of the Trabelsi family before they could leave from Tunis
There is no doubt that the speed at which events are unfolding will
make the heads of some dizzy, and this is natural because during
revolutionary periods, events which normally wouldn’t happen for decades
and decades are concentrated in very short periods of time. Hence, the
bourgeois analysts have all proven that they are unable to foresee
anything, whether in politics or economics, as it wasn’t too long ago
that they were claiming that Tunisia was the calmest and most stable
country in north Africa.
In comparison, the Marxists were able to foresee these events much in
advance, and understand and identify the perspectives for their
development. We predicted in our article The Tunisian Spring that:
“This movement signals, from our point of view, the end of an era
characterised by an apparent stagnation of the class struggle, and is an
expression of the accumulation of many explosive factors. It is the
beginning of another stage of mass movements that sooner or later will
overthrow the regime of tyranny and exploitation in Tunisia once and for
And this is not, of course, because we have a crystal ball. It is
because we have a scientific worldview, whose validity in interpreting
developments and ability to present an alternative to change them, have
been proven by more than 150 years of experience.
The reformists, as usual, at the service of the regime
The moment the old dictator Ben Ali fell, the reformists,
prostituting themselves as could be expected, immediately got into bed
with the new regime, in the same way they used to lie with the old one.
And they rushed to offer their services to the ruling class to help it
save its system in return for some crumbs from the cake of the regime
and some privileges. And of these reformist parties, the Movement of
Social Democrats is perhaps the most willing to prostitute of all. Not
so long ago, this party was greeting “the celebration of the Tunisian
people with honour and pride of the twenty-third anniversary of the
transformation of the 7th of November which was led by the president,
[Zein Al-Abidein Ben Ali]”! And on its website the the MDS declared that on this:
“national occasion the ‘Electronic Future’ published special files
highlighting the importance of the great steps taken by our country
thanks to the strategic decisions of the leadership at all levels of
development which have made Tunisia surge amongst the developing
economies and which have opened up big prospects for the future, filled
with optimism under the shadow of the wise leadership of the president
[Zein Al-Abidein Ben Ali]”!
Neither was it so long ago when they were urging “the parents of the
youth to call for calm and dialogue”. And on president Ben Ali’s speech,
in which he described the protests as criminal and described the masses
as terrorists and explicitly called for them to be killed, this is what
they had to say:
“this situation has provoked feelings of sensitivity, sympathy,
responsibility, at the very tops of the pyramid of the regime, which is
consumed with the issues of the country’s citizens and youth of this
country, and the questions of employment and the pressing societal
issues, and which has all the facts and is keeping a watchful eye.”
And they added that:
“the president of the country spoke the language of honesty, realism
and truth and his speech formed a break in the middle of these events
which pulls the carpet out from under those people who rush to
hooliganism and chaos and tears from them their veil of cheap
‘solidarity’ and reveals their real hidden intentions, to throw the
country into a crisis created by them... but this crazy scenario will
not pass... because the country has established laws which protect it
within the confines of its democratic pluralistic path, and its social
development policies, which the president is keen to give a fresh push
forward to, are a priority.”
And they urgently called on the masses to:
“understand president Ben Ali’s developmental approach on the other
hand, which is to ensure that the country does not become reliant on
others, and does not sink into mounting debts...”
They then make an about-turn in a statement of the Emergency National Council which met on Friday 13 January, when they declare:
“With all respect towards the spirit of the innocent victims... a
decision to pursue all those involved in corruption, bribery and theft
of the national funds”.
And they demanded the formation:
“...of a national unity coalition government which would work to
create the necessary climate to meet international standards for
carrying out early elections before the end of this coming year.”
And if we’re quoting these long passages, it is to keep a historical
record of the positions of these criminals who are now trying to rob the
revolution of its fruits, to turn it into a means to win positions and
privileges for themselves within the regime. We find the same thing with
Ettajdid ("Movement for Renewal") which was not known for any
serious opposition to the dictatorial regime. But the moment they saw
the dictator flee from the country they released a statement on Friday
January 14th, demanding their rightful role in the regime and
a share of the crumbs from the cake. Despite the fact that the prime
minister, Mohammad Ghannoushi, is one of the old cabal, and despite the
mass popular protests demanding his removal, Ettajdid gives him legitimacy and demands from him:
“...consultations with the factions of the serious opposition and the
General Union of Tunisian Workers and the components of independent
civil society in order to arrive at a consensus for the formation of an
executive body that includes all factions to manage the process for
political reform and democratic transition.”
And the “Progressive Democratic Party” in earlier times opened what
it called “a window for the beginning of a political solution” through
“a collection of thoughts which create a roadmap out of the crisis”
which called for a government of national emergency which can implement a
plan to find 300,000 jobs for the unemployed by working with the
different layers of society, particularly the youth.
“The secretary general of the Progressive Democratic Party, Maya
Jribi, said in a statement that Tunisia is in even more need than ever
before of comprehensive reform and the formation of a government of
national unity, noting that the new government will fight against
corruption and to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and
prepare the road for holding early legislative elections overseen by an
independent electoral body. And she also called for constitutional
amendments to guarantee the peaceful transition of power, and the
restoration of order to avoid anarchy.”
Workers, these are your enemies, for all of them want their share of
the booty. Workers, these are your enemies, for all of them want to
extinguish the revolution and retreat behind closed doors to divide up
the power and privileges.
The bankruptcy of reformism is clear, not only because they have
become so used to bowing that they have forgotten how to do otherwise -
for when there was a dictator they put themselves at his service, and
they were always in the service of the capitalist system - but also
because they spent decades preaching social peace and negotiations, and
speaking out against the revolutionary struggle of the masses. And
because they achieved nothing serious at all: for they achieved neither
democracy nor bread, nothing. Whereas one month of the revolutionary
mass movement was enough for the downfall of the dictator, and the
achievement of gains not just in Tunisia, but outside its borders as
And now after the dictator has fled, here they are falling over each
other in a scramble for the gains so they can take them for themselves
and give a new opportunity to the existing system and its executioners.
Working class of Tunisia, revolutionaries, we must not allow our
enemies to steal our revolution from us, we must not allow them to cash
it into their bank accounts. We have given tens of martyrs and all the
other victims; we must continue the revolution until the destruction of
the system of exploitation and murder, so that the nation and its wealth
can belong to all!
No trust in the agents of the old order, no trust in its state, or
its courts, or its laws! It was and remains an apparatus for repressing
us and killing us and taking our freedom, it can never be in our
service. We must establish our own state, or own courts, or own laws, we
must work to elect our own representatives to democratic workers’ and
people’s councils, in the poor neighbourhoods, the factories, the
unions, the colleges and the villages, from amongst the advanced
revolutionary elements who distinguished themselves during the course of
The role of the army
As we predicted in a previous article, the army organized a coup to
save the regime from overthrow. And the country is now under the
absolute control of the jack boot. This was the objective consequence of
the lack of consciousness and organization amongst the ranks of the
working class. The army is a critical element in the fate of every
revolution, and it has a critical role in the current revolution as
well, which makes the discussion of its position now of utmost
importance to develop the perspectives of the revolution and the
position that we the workers must take.
When the ex-dictator ordered the army to intervene to crush the
people, the leadership of the army refused, and this is what pushed him
to dismiss the army chief of staff general Rashid Amar. There were also
confirmed reports of the army fraternizing with the protesters, and even
protecting them from the assaults of the police forces. And this is
what won this institution an important authority amongst the ranks of
But we must never forget that the institution of the army is not
above the classes, we must not forget that it was always a tool in the
hands of the ruling class for the repression of the protests of the
workers and poor. Ben Ali himself is a legitimate son of this repressive
institution. And the highest leadership in this institution belongs to
the ruling class.
Therefore, no trust at all in the army as it is now, with the same
old hierarchy and with the same old leadership and structures. No trust
except in our own power. We must not allow the military clique to abort
our revolution and replace one general with another general (clear or
But on the other hand, we have, within this institution, our brothers
and our sons, the regular soldiers, who come from our ranks and share
with us the reality of persecution and poverty. And to them we must turn
with fraternal appeals which ask that they too elect their officers and
purge the army of all the fascists and enemies of the people, so that
they can join the ranks of the revolution and aid in the formation of
militias of the armed people, overseen and controlled by the trade
unions and the popular councils.
We need now to complete the revolution, to the very end. For half a
revolution is a complete mistake! We must not accept anything less than
the expropriation of the property of the expropriators, and at their
head are the families of Ben Ali and Trabelsi and the gang around them.
We must not accept anything less than the expropriation of the property
of imperialism which propped up the dictatorship and cooperated with it
in keeping down the revolutions of the nation, and place it under the
control of the working people.
[Marxy.com, translated by In Defence of Marxism.]
Protesters demand end of ruling party
January 17, 2011 -- Morning Star
-- About a thousand people rallied in central Tunis today to demand the
abolition of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ruling
Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party. Demonstrators shouted: "Out with the RCD" and "Out with the party of the
dictatorship!" as police fired volleys of tear gas to break up the
Monji Amari, one of those protesting on Bourguiba Avenue, said: "We are here to say 'No'. We have had enough of this party of power. We do not want to see them
any more. Together with Ben Ali they are responsible for the situation
that we are in now."
Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi was a close ally of Mr Ben Ali and
began talks with opposition parties on January 16 to form a national unity
government. Sources close to the talks said the current interior and foreign ministers will stay.
Najib Chebbi, founder of the opposition Progressive Democratic Party
(PDP), is set to become regional development minister in the new
government, while opposition leaders will also get the education and
Any public gatherings are banned under a state of emergency declared by
the ousted premier on Friday just before he resigned and fled. Riot police used water cannons and tear gas today in an attempt to prevent protesters from marching on the RCD's headquarters.
"With our blood and our soul we are ready to sacrifice ourselves for the
martyrs", they chanted, referring to the 50 people who were killed in
clashes that led to Mr Ben Ali's downfall after 23 years in power.
There was another rally in Sidi Bouzid, a city in central Tunisia that
was at the heart of the protests that erupted against Mr Ben Ali's
regime in mid-December last year. People there chanted: "Bread and water and no RCD!" A rally was also held in the nearby town of Regueb. Shops in the centre of Tunis remained shuttered today and police were deployed in force.
A semblance of normal daily life returned in other areas of the capital
where shops, petrol stations, pharmacies and supermarkets reopened. Many people went back to work and others rushed to buy scarce items like bread, fish and milk.
Hundreds of stranded tourists were still being evacuated from the
country and foreign airlines gradually resumed the flights that were
halted when Tunisian airspace closed amid the upheaval.
Tunisia: The 9 points of the Workers Communist Party
January 15, 2010 -- Tunisia Solidarity Campaign,
translated from Arabic by Nadim Mahjoub
1. The success achieved so far is only half of the way and the
other half is achieving the wanted democratic change and implementing it
on the ground.
2. The democratic change cannot spring from the same party, the
figures, the institutions, the apparatuses and the legislations that
maintained the dictatorship and deprived the people from basic rights
for more than half a century, 23 years of which under Ben Ali.
3. The interim president is one of Ben Ali’s clique and a president
of an appointed body which does not represent the people in any aspect
whatsover, and the plan to hold presidential elections in 60-days time
has no purpose but to maintain the continuation of the dictatorial
regime through one of its former leaders.
4. The most dangerous of what could happen now is robbing the
Tunisian people of their victory and their legitimate ambitions for
freedom and a diginified existence and sacrifices through preserving Ben
Ali’s regime without Ben Ali and through forming a democratic decor
5. The democratice change, with its political, economical, social and
cultural dimensions, requires a real end of the repressive regime by
taking a direct step which consists of forming a provisional government
or any other body that has excecutive powers and undertakes the task of
organising free elections for a Constitutional Assembly which would
establish the bases of a real democratic republic in which people would
enjoy freedom, social equality and national dignity.
6. All the forces, whether they are political organisations, unions,
human rights groups, cultural organisations, organised or non-organised
and the people, who have played an effective and decisive role in
toppling the dictator, have the task to decide on Tunisia’s future, and
no one could replace them in their negotiations or contatcs with the
7. It is of a high urgency that the democratic forces form a national
and unified body to carry out the democratic change and has the tasks
to protect the gains of the revolting Tunisian people and to negociate
with the authorities to yield power to the people in a peaceful way
8. All the democratic forces all over the coutry have to unite in
organisations, committees, or local, regional and sectorial councils in
organising the popular movement and to undermine the manoeuvre of
reaction and the acts of looting and vandalism perpetrated by hidden
groups aiming at spreading fear among the citizens, threatening their
safety and scaring them of a democratic change to compel the people to
surrender to the repressive apparatuses.
9. The armed forces, which consists in the main of the sons and
daughters of the people are required to provide safety for the people
and the motherland and respect people’s aspirations towards freedom,
social jutice and national dignity, which requires lifting the state of
emergency as soon as possible so that it doesn’t become an excuse that
prevents the Tunisian people from continuing their struggle and
achieving their goals.
For a provisitional government
For a constitutional assembly
For a democratic republic
Workers Communist Party of Tunisia
All the victory to the Tunisian Revolution; the forefront of the revolution in the North of Africa and the Middle East
By Al Mounadil-a
January 15, 20100 -- An Arab tyrant is finally fallen by a popular revolution.
After 23 years of tyranny, robbery and oppression, the dictator Ben Ali
fled in a humiliated and disqualified way under the cries of the
revolutionary Tunisian people: “Ben Ali, get out!”
Since 1987, Ben Ai accompanied by
the great rotting and venal bourgeois; especially the families of his
wife and his kinsman, the Trabelsi’s and Materi’s, have always believed
that the devices of police and investigations [150.000 policemen without
counting the army and the other forces of repression; the first rank in
the Maghreb by one policeman for each 27 Tunisians] are enough for him
to continue robbing Tunisian fortunes, humiliating its people and
starving them. Ben Ali’s regime was a brilliant pupil of the global
financial institutions and basically of the French imperialism that
cynically condoned on the dictatorship of Ben Ali for the sake of their
share in the Green Tunisian Pie and which spoke a lot about the
"Tunisian Miracle"; the Hong Kong of the North of Africa. This was
before being awake on a true miracle whose heroes are the victims of Ben
Ali and the World Bank policy.
It is a January 14th Tunisian Revolution
that triggered from Sidi Bouzid, a month ago, after the young Mohamed
El-Bouazizi fired himself as a protest against unemployment and
indignity. It is the fire that turned into a popular flame which
increasingly spread to all over Tunisia and rocked the pillars of the
rulers. From one demonstration to another, from a barricade to another
and from a martyr to another; the uprising was flourishing and growing,
and resolutely made its way towards the palaces of the Carthage torturer
demanding the head of the old dragon.
It’s got what it wanted. The old tyrant
fled in panic. It is an important and great victory for the Tunisian
laypeople and all the peoples of the Great Maghreb and the Arab Amazigh
region and for all the oppressed and exploited people all over the
world. It is an Arab, Amazigh and African proof that the will of the
people is indomitable, and that the revolution is not just illusions of
radical dreamers living out of date. The revolution is the blood and
flesh running in the streets of Tunisia. Let all the reactionaries
shuddered everywhere because the infectious revolution is inevitable.
The Tunisian revolution has made a huge
step forward, but the fate of the revolution has not been decided yet,
and still has a lot of rubbish to sweep. The enemies of the revolution
have not yet received the decisive defeat, and the dragon of the
counter-revolution is more than the head of an old tyrant. It has a
political system that is fully supported by all the reactionary forces
of the world. It is a groggy and shaky system, but it has not yet lost
the hope to escape from the grip of the street that throttles her. It
still has in its command the mouldiest police devices in history. It is a
corrupted system and the revolution will not succeed in achieving the
hopes of the Tunisian laypeople if it has not been bombed and replaced
by the temporary government representing the revolutionary people. A
government of the workers, poor peasants and all the laypeople that
oversees the election of a constituent assembly setting the rules to
conduct the country at all levels.
The revolutionaries and the
revolutionary people are not to wait for an interim government, but they
have to seek to form worker and popular councils in factories,
neighbourhoods, schools and also in the barracks. The councils are to be
at the local to the national level and elected with the possibility to
remove any delegate at any time. They should be a revolutionary power to
run the country and a revolutionary shield in the face of the
counter-revolution and its propaganda, repression and games. And the
future of the revolution is based on the formation of these worker and
popular councils and on their gain of the armies or at least some of
them to their side. The arming of the revolutionary people regulated on
councils is the guarantee to push the revolution forward and protect it
from any foreign interference.
not trust those who remained from the gang of Ben Ali! Beware of
liberal political forces that are very eager to ride on people’s
victory! All the power to the revolutionary people! This is the slogan
that should unite all Tunisian revolutionaries.
a second, third, fourth, and fifth Tunisia! Against the tyrannical
regimes sponsoring division! For a Great Democratic United and Socialist
Maghreb! These are the slogans that should unite the revolutionaries in
the Great Maghreb.
All the victory to the Tunisian Revolution; the forefront of the revolution in the North of Africa and the Middle East.
[Al Mounadil-a is an Arabic-language website of the Fourth International, published by the Moroccan section.]
The social and democratic revolution is on the march!
By Fathi Chamkhi, Tunis
January 15, 2011 -- International Viewpoint -- The Tunisian popular masses have just erupted
onto the political scene in a spectacular fashion! They have succeeded,
after 29 days of a social and democratic revolution, in driving out the
dictator Ben Ali! This is a great victory!
It is a great day for us all, which we
share with all those who are fighting against the world capitalist
order! Above all, we have re-conquered our dignity and our pride, which
for a long time had been ridiculed and dragged through the mud by the
dictatorship. Now, we have a new Tunisia to build: free, democratic and
But right now the counterrevolution is
on the march! Ben Ali has fallen from power but his regime, although
destabilised and weakened, is trying to maintain itself in place. The
Destourian party/state is still there, and so are its liberal capitalist
economic and social policies.
This regime, which is presented as an
example of a “star pupil” by the international financial institutions,
this regime which bled the Tunisian popular masses for 23 years, for the
benefit o f an international capital that is greedy for profits, while
enriching a minority of families, grouped around the government and
organised in gangster clans, must go. That is what we want!
We refuse the attempt that is under way
aimed at confiscating our revolution. This operation is being presented
under the formula of a “government of national unity”, with which this
illegitimate regime is trying to hang on to power.
At the same time, the defeated regime
has unleashed its over-armed militias, including the personal guard of
Ben Ali, which are sowing terror in the big cities of the country, in
particular in Tunis and its suburbs. Groups coming from the disinherited
and famished masses are also taking advantage of the current chaos to
help themselves in the supermarkets: in particular Carrefour and Geant.
Bands of looters are positioning themselves along the principal roads of
the country, making it dangerous to travel! Basic products are starting
to be in short supply or are non-existent: bread, milk, medicine …
The regime, which has demobilised the
police force in the cities and the National Guard in the countryside, is
letting all this happen, taking advantage of the chaos to impose its
own solutions. The introduction of the curfew and the deployment of the
army – which lacks manpower and which has never had to face this kind of
situation before – do nothing but worsen the fear, since it is during
the night that the armed militias act!
Everywhere, citizens are trying to organise their own defence, often in
coordination with the army. Thousands of “popular citizens’ defence
committees” are being set up to defend the population.
Only the establishment of a provisional
government, without any representative of the Destourian regime, which
will have the responsibility of preparing free and democratic elections,
regulated by a new electoral code, for a constituent assembly, will be
able to allow Tunisians take control of their destiny again, and to
establish, in their country, an order that is just and beneficial to the
mass of the population.
If the people aspire one day to live, destiny can only yield to their will!
Chamkhi organizes RAID (Assembly for Alternative International
Development)-ATTAC and the Committee for the Abolition of Third World
Debt (CADTM) in Tunisia.]
Statement by the Workers’ Communist Party of Tunisia
January 15, 2011 -- Socialist Unity -- Tunisia
has lived since December 17, 2010, the day when the current popular
revolt against unemployment, exclusion, poverty, cost of living, the
shameless exploitation, corruption, injustice and tyranny began. These popular protests started in the city of Sidi Bouzid and have since extended to all parts of the country. Poverty and tyranny, endured in the city, are a general phenomenon that affects all the Tunisian people. The rage and indignation is the same throughout the country.
The police and dictatorial regime of President Ben Ali attempted to crush the people’s uprising using misinformation,
deception, lies and the brutal repression of the police who fired on
the people, killing unarmed demonstrators. This was done with the intention of suppressing the protests quickly and preventing their spread to the rest of the country. These
methods failed. Instead they have fueled protests that have extended
their range, and drove the demonstrators to turn what began as simple
social demands to political demands on the issue of freedom and power. Even
when Ben Ali delivered his speech on the twelfth day of the revolt to
promise that he would allow elections, nobody believed him and the
masses responded that the protests would continue.The
placards and slogans put forward by the masses in revolt, from south to
north, are clear evidence of the long process of political awareness
which has taken place in the minds of Tunisians over the last twenty
years of the reign of Ben Ali.
Slogans such as: “Work
is a right, band of thieves”, “Hands off the country corrupt band”,
Work, freedom, dignity”, "Liberty, freedom and non-life presidency“,”Down with the party of thieves, down with the torturers of the people“,”Ben Ali lose, the people do not let it go“.
the masses have realised that they are being ruled but not represented
and that the system represents “a band of thieves”, a handful of
families who have plundered the resources of the country, sold its
resources and its people to foreign capital, which deprives people
of their liberty and their rights, using the brute force of the state
apparatus, which has been transformed into a “state of families”, to
humiliate, subdue and intimidate the people and discourage them from
Tunisia has been turned into a national prison in which torture and repression was used to terrorise the people. The
people demand change in the belief that the aspirations to freedom,
democracy and social justice can not be achieved under Ben Ali.
The masses involved in the struggle, in the intifada, no longer want dictatorship, and have embarked on a new process in Tunisia.
needs a new democratic government which represents the national and
popular will of the people and represents its own interests. And
a system of this type cannot emerge from the current system and its
institutions or its constitution and its laws, but only on its ruins by a
constituent assembly elected by the people in conditions of freedom and
transparency, after ending the tyranny.
task of a People’s Council is to draft a new constitution that lays the
foundations of democratic republic, with its institutions and its laws. The popular protests are still ongoing. No one can predict either their duration or their development. Tunisia
has entered a new phase in its history characterised by the rise of its
people and their desire to recover their freedom, rights and dignity.This
raises the responsibilities of the opposition, especially its most
radical wing, to find new policy solutions that place as an immediate
priority the requirements of the Tunisian people for a program providing
a plan for overall change in Tunisia. The
opposition, consisting of all the forces involved in the intifada, has
been invited to close ranks for democratic change and to form an
alternative to tyranny and dictatorship.
Workers’ Communist Party renews its invitation to convene a national
assembly of the Tunisian opposition in order to confront the issue as
quickly as possible. Also
renewed has been an invitation to come together to coordinate at
national and local level support for the popular movements, and to work
towards a set of concrete demands so that the movement does not run out
of steam. Among these demands the most immediate are:
1. An immediate end to the dictatorship’s campaign of repression against the people.
2. The release of all prisoners.
3. The arrest and prosecution of all those responsible for repression, the plunder of property, and murder. 4. The repeal of all restrictions on civil liberties, free expression, organisation and assembly. The
adoption of immediate economic measures to alleviate unemployment and
poverty. We demand income security, health care and the immediate
recognition of trade unions.
Workers Communist Party will remain, as it has always been, on the
side of the workers, the poor and all those at the forefront of a new
order in Tunisia.
For freedom, democracy and social justice.
and Democratic Labour Party: Immediate tasks in Tunisia
Statement by Khaled Falah, Tunisian Patriotic
and Democratic Labour Party
January 15, 2011 -- First of all, our party intends to remain
in opposition, and
not to enter the next government, although two of our allies in
for Citizenship and Equality plan to take part in a government
unity (namely the Ettajdid Movement and the Democratic Forum).
[Editor's note: The Mouvement Ettitjad (Renewal
Movement) emerged from the Tunisian Communist Party, which dissolved in the early 1990s. Ahmed Brahim, the secretary-general of the Ettajdid won support from the Workers Communist Party of Tunisia and
the Socialist Party – both clandestine – for the presidency in
the criminal gangs which are indulging in plunder and
and which are like a kind of “tontons macoutes” of the
the creation in each district of Citizens’ Committees for
to defend people and property from these “tontons macoutes”
the return of the police force and the army to their barracks
as possible, and the end of the curfew and the state of
a commission of inquiry to locate the persons who were
the use of live rounds [against civilians during the
a commission of inquiry with the power to expropriate the
of corruption and illicit enrichment;
a national commission on total reform of the electoral code,
code and the law concerning political parties;
the legalisation of the Patriotic and Democratic Labour Party
Tunis, January 15, 2011.
[Khaled Falah is a member of the founding committee of the
Tunisian Patriotic and
Democratic Labour Party. Web site: http://www.hezbelamal.org/siteanglais/index.htm