The road ahead for Tunisia is unknown, however with a cautious approach a durable decmocratic order can be established.
AN EXCELLENT PIECE
By Larbi Sadiki
"In the wake of an Arab world-shattering political development, the government of Tunisia has been effectively overthrown via an amalgamation of civil unrest, grassroots mobilization and what one could call a coup d'esprit.
Tunisia's new political masters must proceed by distancing themselves from self-congratulatory triumphalism. They will have to muster courage, display political imagination and modesty, and exercise tolerance of difference in order to fashion a durable democratic order in a post-Ben Ali Tunisia.
The question is always, of course, 'how'? Historically, whether it is the new republican order after the absolute monarchy in France more than 200 years ago, post-Franco Spain or post-Marcos Philippines, trepidation is inevitable. Skills of compromise, clear vision and purpose are needed to tread the unchartered waters of post-authoritarian construction.
Lessons from the 29 days that shook Tunisia
If anything, the bread riots that produced the Arab World's first people's power movement has served notice to the country's political class - past and present - in several ways.
One, Tunisia's people alone own the historical moment of victory against dictatorship. I think Tunisia's people have earned the right to be sovereign and treated accordingly. Any resulting political system must enshrine this moment as theirs alone. Institutionally, political reconstruction must entrust all sovereign mechanisms of checks and balances with the people.
Two, not the Western backers of the regime and not the expatriate politics of exile won the day against Ben Ali. This was a home-grown spontaneous movement.
Three, no single political movement, leader or ideology can fake political history and claim victory for a political current they neither precipitated, controlled or delivered. There is a poetic justice in this: all political actors enter the new political fray humbled and on equal footing. The Tunisian people are now handing them on a silver platter a rare chance to right many wrongs of the deposed president.....
The 'Tunisia effect'
All Arabs feel emboldened and inspired by the overthrow of Ben Ali Baba's dictatorship. Tunisia now leads the way and others are closely watching. The Tunisia effect must be a democratic effect.
The 14th of January will go down in Tunisia's history as a milestone as significant as 1857 and 1861 when Tunisia reform produced, respectively, the Arab and Muslim world's first 'bill of rights' and constitution. Its significance equals that of March 20, 1956, Day of Independence from colonialism.
The stigma has been that the Arab societies are indefinitely confused with absence of civic cultures and self-governance potential. Tunisians have won the first battle in demolishing some condescending constructions of Arab societies. The battle ahead, to bring to fruition a sustainable 'democratic spring' has just begun. Winning it will require time, political stamina, and the will to think, act and be free.
The downfall of Ben Ali is metaphor for the storming of the 'Bastille' of political singularity. This is the 'disease' against which immunization of the new system is needed.
One of the new shared political values needed is the dynamic of difference and contradiction as a positive force in the political process and in any durable substantive democratisation. Purging, excluding or killing political difference is never possible. If it were, Ben Ali would have triumphed over the will of the Tunisian people long ago."