Tunisia Travels Long, Chaotic Road To Democracy
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
But as Eleanor Beardsley reports, the path from dictatorship to democracy is long and chaotic.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: It's hard to read the streets of Tunis these days. On one side of the city's main boulevard, Habib Bourguiba Avenue, cafes and stores are open, and industrious Tunisians have gone back to work.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)
BEARDSLEY: Thirty-three-year-old Amen Labizi(ph) says the country has become a bubbling cauldron since Ben Ali fled.
AMEN LABIZI: Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)
BEARDSLEY: From her third floor office, above Bourguiba Avenue, Selma Jabbes(ph) watches everything unfold below.
SELMA JABBES: Now, everybody would like to find a new life with the new values, but we are always waiting to see a clear situation. There are not transparency in the words in the information on our TVs, our radios, our medias.
BEARDSLEY: The one thing people keep saying over and over here is that the situation is far from clear.
ERIC GOLDSTEIN: Well, I think people are waking up from a deep sleep.
BEARDSLEY: That's Eric Goldstein, coordinator of Human Rights Watch in Tunisia. He says while the president's main allies fled, Ben Ali's network is still largely in place across the country.
GOLDSTEIN: That is a heavy apparatus, and it's not as if those people and those institutions have been pushed aside. You know, the head was chopped off.
BEARDSLEY: The new undersecretary for youth and sports is 32-year-old Slim Amamou. As a computer blogger, he was jailed under the Ben Ali regime. Today, Amamou seeks refuge in his office from the clamoring demands of the hallway.
SLIM AMAMOU: All this social movement and everything you see - people that don't agree with the government and don't agree with each other and everything - it's part of the new construction of Tunisia. We're learning and building a new democracy. So this is the way to do it, I think. There is no other way.
BEARDSLEY: For NPR news, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Tunis.
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