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13 Jan, 2012 19:43

Burning indignation: Tunisians still striving for change one year on

On the eve of the anniversary of regime change in Tunisia a female protester has set herself ablaze. As it is the fourth such case in a week, many ask if anything has changed since a similar self-immolation triggered the revolution nearly a year ago.

One year after former Tunisian President Ben Ali was toppled the country is still battling severe unemployment and pressing economic problems.

A trauma center in the Tunisian capital reports that over a hundred people have set themselves alight since the overthrow of the government on January 14, 2011.

The protests leading to the revolution began after Mohamed Bouazizi, a market vendor, set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, as a protest against police brutality.

Author and Middle East expert Tariq Ali thinks that the recent self-immolations first of all testify to public frustration over the way the new authorities are ruling the country.

“People are disappointed and angry that the post-Ben Ali operation has not been successful. They were prepared to wait. They did wait for the general elections. They feel that the new politicians who have taken over have no social and economic program to benefit the poor and they are trying to revive a popular movement by burning themselves.”

Ali says that although one year may be not enough to completely reform the country there is no transparent political program and he does not rule out the possibility of another revolution.

“People have the awareness that it was when they took to the streets that they toppled these dictators, and this awareness gives them a feeling and an understanding of real power and it is not impossible that if things carry on like this they can do so again and then it will be a question of what the army does,” he explained, adding that “the army has been quite repressive over the last six months in some parts of Tunisia.”