On January 14th, former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country after twenty-three years in power, following weeks of protests driven by anger over joblessness, corruption, and political repression. Protests in Tunisia continue. Scores of protesters gathered in front of Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi’s office calling for holdovers from former President Ben Ali’s regime to be ousted from the new interim government.
Prime Minister Ghannouchi, who occupied his current position since 1999, has kept it through the upheaval. He has vowed to quit politics after upcoming elections. He says he needs to stay on in order to lead Tunisia through its transition to democracy.
The United States supports the people of Tunisia as they seek to usher in a more democratic era for their country. In a recent phone call to Prime Minister Ghannouchi, U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed continued U.S. support for the people of Tunisia as they work towards a more democratic society. She said the United States is encouraged by indications that the interim government is trying to be inclusive and ensure that the many segments of Tunisian society will have a voice in the country's political future.
The United States continues to call upon the transitional National Unity government to work towards transparent and credible elections in six months. Secretary Clinton commended the interim government on its establishment of working committees to investigate allegations of public corruption under the former regime and abuses by security forces during the recent unrest, and encouraged the interim government to continue to work toward political reform. Finally, Secretary Clinton reiterated the United States' commitment to assist the Tunisian people in meeting the challenges ahead, and emphasized that the United States will stand with the Tunisian people as they chart a new course for their country.