In Tunisia, a People March Towards Freedom
Heading towards Malta, then France, reports suggest French President Nicolas Sarkozy denied the president’s plane landing permission from where it turned towards the Gulf -- where other dictators feel warmer towards the president.
The military says it is now in control and a former prime minister -- Ali Ghannouchi, a close ally of President Ben Ali -- appeared on TV to announce that he is now in charge. He said that fresh legislative elections would be held in six months. But it all missed the point.
For the first time, an Arab country has seen a dictator run for his life because the people assembled to shout at the top of their lungs that enough is enough. No longer in Tunisia will people like Ben Ali rule and expect no backlash. Ghannouchi’s promises seem to have had no effect.
Tunisian activists online announced that Ben Ali’s departure is not the end of their protests. That they will continue protesting until all of Ben Ali’s associates have been sidelined from the government and a unity government that is democratic and guarantees freedoms for Tunisians is put in place.
As you read these words, protesters in Tunisia are continuing their march on government buildings -- according to Al-Jazeera -- and more protests are expected on Saturday. The legacy of a man setting himself on fire to protest unemployment is a nation of citizens turning on their authoritarian rulers to gain their freedom. I’ll borrow a line from Michael Ledeen: faster please!