Category Archives: Tunisia

Why was there no ‘African Spring’? by Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla

From: Juma Mzuri

The self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor in December 2010 triggered a wave of protests across Tunisia that brought down President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and spread across North Africa and the Middle East. What western media dubbed the “Arab Spring”, toppled dictatorial regimes in Egypt, Libya and Yemen and sparked conflict in Syria and Bahrain. The aftershock was felt as far as Morocco, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Although reasons for the mass uprisings differ from one country to another, the Arab Spring occurred mostly because of rampant corruption in governments, rising unemployment and the many challenges of everyday survival: putting bread on the table, being able to afford fuel, clothing and even shelter. Politically, decades-long one-man rule had become unbearable and the prospect of familial succession provoked increasing public anger.

Many people had hoped that sub-Saharan Africa would follow suit, and that there would be an “African Spring”. To the surprise of many, there has been no revolution of any sort so far, or even a protest wave close to what we saw in Northern Africa.

Although we have similar circumstances – corruption, embezzlement of public property, unemployment, worsening economic hardship among citizens, and in some countries, overstayed regimes – why have we not had our “spring” as of yet?

Elections, succession and conflict resolution

The most important reason why there was no African spring is that Africa south of the Sahara has experienced a fast-moving series of democratic transitions in the 1990s which saw the advent of multi-party democracy in some previously single-party regime countries such as the Ivory Coast, Mali, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola etc. In South Africa, apartheid had just ended.

This toned down the fervour of African revolutionaries in academia, politics and civil society. It provided hope that revolutionary transformation can happen through peaceful democratic processes which will guarantee the change and succession of governments. This eased revolutionary pressure and the need to remove regimes through protests and force.

Now, in many African countries south of the Sahara there is a clear system and schedule of democratic elections and more open and inclusive parliamentary democracies where people have a chance to air their views compared to the regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, for example.

Furthermore, a number of African countries have successfully conducted internal conflict resolution through negotiations, which has set a precedent and a trend. Two opposing sides would sit on a round-table and adopt some power-sharing mechanisms which would provide opportunities for peaceful reconciliation with a commitment to establishing a lasting democratic process.

We saw the signing of a deal between Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga in Kenya, or what was termed a “power accord”, which ended post-election violence in Kenya after the December 2007 elections and created a coalition government. In Zimbabwe after the 2009 election, a government of national unity was also negotiated with the opposition. This style of negotiations and agreements between those in power and those in opposition has become the order of democracies in sub-Saharan Africa and is yet to be adopted by countries in North Africa.

Issues of mobilisation

Another major reason for an African spring not happening is the absence of some factors for mass mobilisation. First, many countries in sub-Sahara Africa have a much smaller urban middle class than most of the countries in the Arab world where the Arab Spring was experienced.

As the middle class expands, its political and socio-economic ambitions grow as well. That is why the core of anti-regime protests is often the dissatisfaction of a middle class unable to realise its desires for upward mobility or expansion. Young men and women of middle class backgrounds tend to be more easily drawn into political activism and are more effective at it, given the material resources available to them.

One of the key mobilisation tools of the middle class – technology – is also not so readily available in sub-Saharan Africa. The limited access to technology in most countries on the continent has made it difficult for modern communication channels like email, Listservs, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp to be used to share information and mobilise people for mass protests.

A major player in a number of the Arab revolutions was the army. In most countries in Africa south of the Sahara, the military and security establishments are loyal to the central government, which means that they are unlikely to back anti-government protests. Although the 1960s and 1970s saw many military coups and army officers taking over political power, in the past two decades, the military forces in sub-Saharan Africa have been, for the most part, depoliticised.

Another factor to consider is the rather weak civil society and fragmented political scene which has precluded the formation of a wide, united front against a ruling government in sub-Saharan Africa. In North Africa, civil society and opposition forces had been mobilising themselves well before the regimes were prepared to face mass protests; there were sporadic protests across Arab Spring countries well before 2011.

By contrast, most African countries have not seen organised protests with such frequency in the past decade. What is more, when Arab revolutions erupted, this immediately rang alarm bells across sub-Saharan Africa, where governments had the time to learn from Arab leaders’ mistakes and take measures to prepare for such an event.

Although looking back, no one predicted the Arab Spring, many scholars of the African political landscape find it inevitable. We did not witness an African Spring, but that does not mean we are safe.

We have our own generation of corrupt and autocratic leaders and bureaucrats, or what George Ayittey named the “Hippo Generation”. There are growing inequities, rising rates of unemployment, and an unbearable cost of living. We also have an active youth that constitutes a huge chunk of our population, as well as a rapidly expanding literate and urbanised middle class.

So will we have an African Spring in the very near future? Let us keep our fingers crossed that it never happens, and if it does, let us pray that it will take a peaceful course, lest we repeat the dark history of endless African wars.

Hamisi Kigwangalla is a Member of Parliament in the Parliament of Tanzania representing Nzega Constituency and he chairs the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Regional Administration and Local Government. He is currently writing his dissertation towards a PhD in Public Health at the University of Cape Town. He holds a Doctor of Medicine (University of Dar es Salaam), a Master of Public Health (Karolinska Institutet) and a Master of Business Administration (Blekinge Institute of Technology).

Follow him on Twitter: @hkigwangalla

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Deputy Secretary of State Higginbottom’s Travel to Tunisia

From: U.S. Department of State
Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC

March 18, 2014


Deputy Secretary Higginbottom traveled to Tunisia March 17-18th to meet with Tunisian officials, business leaders, students, and civil society representatives to discuss with them ways to strengthen the U.S.-Tunisia relationship. Deputy Secretary Higginbottom underscored the U.S. belief that Tunisia remains a bright hope for a successful transition to democracy. Working with the people and government of Tunisia to lay a foundation for political stability and economic prosperity that solidifies their democracy, strengthens civil society, and empowers youth is a top priority for the United States.

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African leaders, top scholars look at regional integration as key to Africa’s continuing growth and development

From: News Release – African Press Organization (APO)

African leaders, top scholars look at regional integration as key to Africa’s continuing growth and development

TUNIS, Tunisia, October 21, 2013/ — The eighth African Economic Conference will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from October 28-30, 2013 under the theme “Regional Integration in Africa”. The conference is organized each year by the African Development Bank (AfDB) (, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


This year’s African Economic Conference will bring together top policy-makers, heads of state, leading researchers and experienced development practitioners from Africa and around the world to discuss issues arising from African countries’ efforts to pool resources and integrate their economies for the development of their regional and individual economies. The conference will examine the efforts being made in different sectors and areas, including finance, road transport, power pools, water resource management, fiscal convergence and labour mobility. Discussions will focus on issues specific to middle-income countries and those peculiar to fragile states. The 2013 AEC will also be discussing the constraints effective integration faces – the poorly developed network of regional infrastructure, especially in transport, energy and communications, and the unsuitable array of legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks, all of which cannot be ignored. Finally, delegates will look into solutions to facilitate regional integration.

The AEC will also provide a unique forum for in-depth presentations of policy-oriented research by both established academics and emerging talents from the continent.

What: 8th African Economic Conference

When: Monday, October 28 – Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Where: Montecasino Entertainment Complex, Johannesburg, South Africa

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

For media information, please contact:

AfDB: Olivia Ndong Obiang,, tel. +216 95 99 97 70

ECA: Mercy Wambui,, tel. +251 92 10 14 767

UNDP: Nicolas Douillet,, tel. +1 212 906 5937

Financing Africa’s infrastructure: AUC Chairperson, ECA Executive Secretary, and AfDB Group President will meet in Tunis on 19 July 2013

From: News Release – African Press Organization (APO)

Roundtable on financing Africa’s infrastructure in Tunis

AUC Chairperson, ECA Executive Secretary, and AfDB Group President will meet in Tunis on 19 July 2013

TUNIS, Tunisia, July 15, 2013/ — AUC Chairperson, Mrs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, ECA Executive Secretary,Mr Carlos Lopes and AfDB Group President Mr Donald Kaberuka (, will meet in Tunis on 19 July 2013 for a high level roundtable aimed at scaling up financing of infrastructure in line with Africa’s vision for the next 50 years.


The Heads of the main African organizations involved in shaping and financing Africa’s Infrastructure will examine AfDB’s Africa50Fund, endorsed in May by the AfDB’s Board of Governors during the Group’s Annual Meetings.

Participants at the high level roundtable will include Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, as well as the secretaries-general of all the RECs and the presidents or CEOs of African sub-regional development finance institutions (DFIs).

Theme : Scaling up of infrastructure financing in line with Africa’s vision for the next 50 years.

When : Friday 19th July 2013

Venue : Tunis, Mövenpick Hotel, Gammarth

Contact : Olivia Ndong Obiang :

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

About the African Development Bank Group

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) ( is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 29 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 53 regional member states.

For more information:

African Development Bank (AfDB)

Tunisia: AfDB Governors Announce Bank’s Return to its Headquarters in Abidjan

From: News Release – African Press Organization (APO)

AfDB Governors Announce Bank’s Return to its Headquarters in Abidjan

“The first group of staff will leave before the end of 2013″, according to the President of the AfDB, Donald Kaberuka

TUNIS, Tunisia, June 11, 2013/ — The Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) ( and of the African Development Fund (ADF) announced the return of the AfDB to its headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, during the Bank’s Annual Meetings held in Marrakech (Morocco) from 27th to 31st May 2013.

[image] Photo Donald Kaberuka:


This decision follows the approval of the roadmap prepared by Bank’s management for the return of the institution to Côte d’Ivoire.

The Board of Directors of the AfDB Group had instructed its management during the Annual Meetings held in Arusha, Tanzania, in 2012 to prepare a roadmap for a well-planned and organized return of the Bank to its headquarters. It said the roadmap should guarantee the institution’s stability, business continuity, and the well-being of staff and their families.

Consenting to the roadmap, the AfDB’s Advisory Committee of Governors, meeting in Tokyo, Japan, in October 2012, recommended its approval by the Board of Governors, thus opening the way for the return to Abidjan.

According to the President of the AfDB, Donald Kaberuka, “the first group of staff will leave before the end of 2013. The AfDB will celebrate its 50th anniversary in November 2014 in Abidjan”.

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

African Development Bank (AfDB)

Tunesia: Country’s president flees; PM announces he’s taking over. Tunisian PM assumes power after anti-govt riots?

from Betty Otieno

TUNIS – Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has gone on state television to say he is assuming power in Tunisia. The Tunisian army reportedly seized the airport and closed Tunisian airspace to all traffic.

The announcement Friday came after thousands of protesters mobbed the capital of Tunis to demand the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In response to the riots, the president declared a state of emergency in the North African nation, dissolved the government and promised new legislative elections within six months.

Unconfirmed news reports, citing unidentified government sources in Tunisia, said Ben Ali had left the country, reportedly to France. The 74-year-old leader came to power in a bloodless coup in 1987, taking over for a man called formally President-for-Life.

An AP Television News reporter heard gunfire in the center of the Tunisian capital late Friday, as well as the popping of tear gas pistols as police fired on protesters. Police have repeatedly fired on crowds during nearly a month of riots.

Tear gas was fired earlier Friday as protesters climbed atop the roof of the Interior Ministry.

The president announced earlier in the day that he would dismiss his government and call new legislative elections after thousands of protesters marched through the capital to demand his ouster.

Protesters have been fueled by pent-up anger at high unemployment and at a leadership many see as controlling and corrupt.

Tunisian medical officials say 13 people have died in new unrest in the North African nation.

International tour operators evacuated thousands of vacationers from Tunisia on Friday as the civil unrest intensified.

Thomas Cook said it was asking its roughly 3,800 British, Irish, and German customers in Tunisia to leave the country, while some 200 Dutch tourists were repatriated Thursday night via a chartered flight. U.S. and European governments have issued a series of travel alerts warning their citizens away from nonessential travel to Tunisia.


from: Yona Fares Maro

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure”. Thomas Jefferson

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Edmund Burke.

It may come as a surprise, even shock, to some but I have not always subscribed to the idea of one Tanzania. I have always viewed Tanzania as a mere geographical expression, An Island and Main Land joined together by an umbilical cord called United Kingdom, an umbilical cord which has since cut itself off and left us to our perils. Having since abandoned this segregated line of thinking, I seek to impose my message of change in a people so cynical, indifferent and completely inundated by the happenings in, around and out of Tanzania. The sheer magnitude of cynicism, negativity, passiveness and pessimism which unfortunately pervades the average Tanzanian makes it an uphill task to pass this message across. Pessimism which engenders passiveness is a social ill that destroys the very fabric of our essence which in this context is the courage to take matters into our own hands. Our leaders have nonetheless capitalised on this mindset.

The culture of impunity which pervades our polity is not only inimical to progress, development and well being, but is also repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. And there’s just so much nature can tolerate. Thus, Tanzania is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, and when it does, no Tanzanian home or abroad will be spared the consequences. So its either we let sleeping dogs lie for fear they will bite if they awake or force them awake and brace for the bite. Either way, we’ll surely be bitten. So why don’t we get bitten doing the right thing?

According to Albert Einstein, “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who do not do anything about it”. This mentality of “siddon dey look” has to fly out the window. We are too complacent about issues which touch and concern us as a people. Tanzania belongs to Tanzanians and not to the Karumes , the Mwinyis, the Mengis, Manji and definitely not to Anna Mkapa . It is indeed a shame that Tanzanians who are known to be enterprising in all their respective fields and endeavours are unusually lackadaisical in addressing the various issues that plague us and demand accountability from our leaders. It is however a notorious fact that our leaders are leading us to a destination worse than hell and to a fate worse than death. The incredulity of it all lies in their atrocious commission of acts that are so egregious as to shock the conscience of a reasonable person. But as long as we do not bend our backs, no one can ride us like donkey.

Impossible is what no one can do till someone does. There is a French saying, “Impossible n’est pas francais” Impossible is not French and neither should it be Tanzanian. The proverbial turtle only makes progress when it sticks out its neck. Unfortunately, in life, there is no elevator to success. We just have to take the stairs. The hard way is the only way out. Something within us all is revealed when we’re pressured from without. The legendary bird Eneke nti oba once told his friends, “Men of today have learnt to shoot without missing and so I have learnt to fly without perching.” Chronic diseases require drastic treatment but our people say that we do not abandon war for fear of getting shot. It took only one woman, Mary Slessor to stop the killing of twins, a feat that was considered impossible by the missionaries. Barack Obama turned the White house into the Black house. In other words, it just takes a few good men to turn around the tide no matter how massive.

I do not believe that change can only come through the political empowerment. Change does not come in big leaps and quantum. Change does not come sounding horns and blaring trumpets. Change does not come in blasting AK 47 and targeting our politicians. That scene belongs to a Rambo movie. Change will not come by looking at the other person instead of to ourselves. MJ said in man in the mirror, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change”. Change comes in our little corners, in our daily lives and activities, in our seemingly mundane tasks and in our duties and obligations as citizens. Simply put, chers amis, change comes only in doing the right things. Imagine a scenario where every Tanzanian carried out their duties conscientiously and without soliciting hand outs, paid their light and water bills, went for their lectures and sat for their exams without looking for a lecturer to “sort”, spoke their minds on issues without fear or favour. That is the vision of Tanzania we should all be angling for.

The pen they say is mightier than the sword but action speaks louder than words. I am wont to believe that this generation has the potentials to usher in this wind of change, for the mere reason that we grew up in a functioning Tanzania. We have seen that before and after Tanzania, the two sides of the coin. For that to be achieved however, our mens rea and actus reus must be at par. In other words, our thought processes coupled with our movement in the right direction must be contemporaneous. Let the concept of anchor deeply into our subconsciousness for in our unity as a people, there lies our strength. We are like the Lilliputians united against Gulliver, like David before Goliath and like the Israelites before Pharaoh. But how do we expect to win if we never try? Barrack Obama has taught us that nothing is impossible to him who not only believes but acts on it. It behoves us and indeed it is high time we passed from rhetoric to action. If not, 20 yrs from now, we’ll still be venting our frustrations and anger on Face Book and on the pages of our dailies.

Nevertheless, regardless of our location, our differences and divides, we are one Tanzania. We can decide to change our nationalities, skin colour and names but we can never change our roots. So live or die, home or abroad, good or bad, healthy or ailing, rich or poor, we are still one Tanzania for life. As usual, I rest my case.