Reuters blog archive
from The Human Impact:
The “Arab Spring” was fuelled in part by popular desire to weed out corruption. But could graft in fact be on the rise in Egypt and Tunisia?
It could indeed be rising massively, according to Nicola Ehlermann-Cache, a senior policy analyst at the Paris-based think-tank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
“Unfortunately, informal reports have been made to me – certainly in Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq – (by) people claiming that corruption is rising tremendously,” she said last week as a panelist at the International Bar Association’s (IBA) annual Anti-Corruption Conference in Paris.
Ehlermann-Cache painted a bleak picture of the state of corruption in the North Africa and the Middle East (MENA). Issues of particular concern, she said, were poorly written laws, ongoing immunity for influential officials, media restrictions, no right to access public information and weak institutions.
from Africa News blog:
By Isaac Esipisu
Several African leaders watching news of the death of Africa ’s longest serving leader are wondering who among them is next and how they will leave office.
Three of the ten longest serving leaders have fallen this year – Ben Ali of Tunisia ruled for 23 years, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt ruled for 30 years and the longest, the Brother Leader of Libya ruled for 42 years – all gone in the last six months.
from Tales from the Trail:
Spa treatment or desert retreat?
With so many possible locations from which to choose and no worries about stretching the 401K, where's an embattled leader to settle in retirement?
Egypt's Hosni Mubarak has announced he will not run for reelection in September. But protesters who have taken to the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities by the thousands are demanding he leave office now.
Tunisia's Islamists have been shut out of the interim government, Islamist leader Rachid Ghannouchi said, calling for a cabinet that brings together all parties and for the dismantling of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's police state. Banned for over 20 years, his Ennahda (Arab for "Renaissance") party applied this week for a license and will take part in Tunisia's first free elections, though Ghannouchi himself has pledged not to run for any office.
They are at pains to assure Tunisians this is no Islamic revolution. They do not seek the presidency. They will run alongside other groups in the democracy that replaces Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali's police state.
Rachid Ghannouchi, the head of Tunisia's main Islamist Ennahda movement returns on Sunday to the country from which he was exiled 22 years ago.
Below are some facts on Ghannouchi and his party Ennahda.
(Photo: Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi (C, with red scarf) is welcomed by supporters upon his arrival in Tunis January 30, 2011/Louafi Larbi)
Thousands of Tunisians turned out on Sunday to welcome home an Islamist leader whose return from 22 years of exile indicated that his party would emerge as a major force in Tunisia after the ousting of its president.
(Photo: Shadows of protesters on the Tunisian flag, in Tunis January 15, 2011/Zohra Bensemra)
For years they were jailed or exiled. They were excluded from elections, banned from politics, and played no visible role in Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution. But in the brave new world of multi-party politics, moderate Islamists could attract more followers than their secular rivals like to admit.
And the downfall of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's police state may leave Tunisia open to infiltration by extremists from neighboring Algeria, where war between authorities and Islamists has killed 200,000 people in the last two decades.
For 23 years, Tunisians prayed in fear. They limited their visits to the mosque. They talked to no one. Women could not wear the veil on the street and men could not wear long beards for fear of arrest. On Friday, for the first time since the overthrow of secular ex-president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisians attended their weekly sermon without fear that this public expression of piety would cost them their jobs or their freedom.
"We couldn't pray freely before," Abdel Kouki, 57, said outside the Quds mosque in the Tunisian capital as hundreds of men, most in suits or jeans, streamed into the small mosque.
(Photo: Tunisian protester with political demands on a banner that reads
"No to a government born of corruption" “Ben Ali is in Saudi Arabia and the government is the same (hasn’t changed)” in Arabic and "RCD, clear out!" in French. The RCD is the party of former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. In Tunis January 18, 2011/Zohra Bensemra)
The absence of Islamist slogans from Tunisia's pro-democracy revolt punches a hole in the argument of many Arab autocrats that they are the bulwark stopping religious radicals sweeping to power.
Ousted strongman Zine el Abidine Ben Ali spent much of his 23-year rule crushing Islamist opposition groups who opposed his government's brand of strict secularism: after Sept. 11 2001, he was an enthusiastic backer of Washington's "war on terror".