Tag Archive | "Popular uprising"

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Tunisia Seeks To Extradite Ben Ali’s wife

Posted on 22 February 2011 by hashimilion

Tunisia on Monday formally asked Saudi Arabia to extradite the wife of ousted strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and took steps to dissolve his ruling party as protests continued against the struggling caretaker government.

Authorities “have made an official request to Saudi authorities through diplomatic channels for the extradition of Leila Trabelsi, the wife of the ousted president,” state TAP news agency said, quoting the foreign ministry.

Tunis has already asked Riyadh to extradite 74-year-old Ben Ali for his involvement “in several serious crimes aimed at perpetrating and inciting voluntary homicide and sowing discord” among Tunisians.

Ben Ali and his family fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14 after an unprecedented popular uprising. He was reported last week to have fallen into a coma after suffering a stroke and was being treated in a hospital in Jeddah.

The European Union decided earlier this month to freeze the assets of 46 members of his entourage.

A former hairdresser, Trabelsi is accused of pillaging the country through endemic corruption, putting family members in key government and lucrative business posts.

Interior Minister Farhat Rajhi announced that he had officially requested to dissolve Ben Ali’s powerful Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party, two weeks after suspending its activities and closing its offices.

Despite its seemingly perennial power, the RCD, founded in 1988 by Ben Ali, had a tiny membership of some two million, roughly a fifth of the population.

And while the revolution forced out the former president, the caretaker government of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi continues to face protests by angry demonstrators demanding to root out vestiges of the old regime.

About one thousand protesters, mostly students, Monday rallied for a second day in Tunis against what they called the “hypocrites” in the transitional government.

“We want the government to fall. Ghannouchi and his ministers want to stay beyond the period of transition,” said on student organisaer Ali Amdouni.

Ghannouchi was prime minister under Ben Ali for over a decade since 1999.

On January 17, he took the reins of a transitional government of national unity, which included many ministers who were part of the old regime.

The authorities have appointed a panel to prepare free elections due in six months while several opposition parties have demanded the election of a constituent assembly to write a new constitution.

Meanwhile Tunisian authorities on Monday arrested the suspected killer of a Polish priest who was found with his throat slit last week, which had raised fears extremists could be behind the murder, TAP reported.

Police arrested Chokri Ben Mustapha Bel-Sadek El-Mestiri, 43, a carpenter who worked at the same religious school where the priest Marek Rybinski was employed as accountant, TAP said, citing the interior ministry.

Rybinski was found dead on Friday, provoking condemnation from the transitional government and the main Islamist opposition group Ennahda (Awakening).

Authorities originally attributed the murder to extremists based “on the way” the priest was attacked.

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Saudi Detainees Refuse to Sign Pledge

Posted on 19 February 2011 by hashimilion

The new political party founding members, arrested by Saudi authorities, refuse to compromise in withdrawing their demands for reforms.

The Umma Islamic Party, formed earlier this month by 10 university professors, political activists and business people, have asked the country’s rulers to start a dialogue on reform, including improving the status of women.

The initiative for forming the party was taken as pro-democracy movements have been spreading across Arab and African countries in recent weeks. The move came despite the kingdom’s ban on forming political parties.

It is not clear how many members were arrested on Wednesday, but party officials said that the detainees have declined to sign a pledge asked by the authorities’ on Friday to withdraw demands in return for their release.

One of the founders, Sheikh Mohammed bin Ghanim al-Qahtani, in a statement emailed to AP, said that he and the others have committed no crime to justify the arrest and that they were exercising their legitimate political rights.

The arrests will only “increase the political tension among the Saudi people who, like other Arabs, aspire to real political reform based on their right to freely express their opinions, hold political gatherings and elect their lawmakers,” he said.

On Thursday, Saudi Prince Talal bin Abdul-Aziz warned that his oil-rich country might be next in being swept over by a popular uprising if it does not act on reforms.

He said that it is not too late for the government to avoid a popular uprising if it adopts measures to step up the pace of reforms.

Saudi Arabia does not have a parliament. Instead, it has a consultative Shura Council, which is an entirely appointed body, merely aimed at providing the king with consultations on policies, laws, and other matters.

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