Events in Tunisia, January 12

The regime is clinging on and making some minor concessions which are probably far too late. The security crackdown is obviously placing huge demands on the police and military. In a trial of strength, can the protesters stretch them to breaking point? Maybe the endgame is approaching but the big question is how it can be brought to a conclusion.

A brief summary of reported events in Tunisia on Wednesday:

  • Interior minister, Rafik Belhaj Kacem, dismissed; replaced by Ahmed Fria, former communications minister.

  • Prime minister announces release [not confirmed] of all those arrested during recent events except those involved in looting and burning.

  • President sets up committee of inquiry into abuses during recent events, plus a second committee to look intocorruption (!) and mistakes by some officials. 

  • Both houses of parliament to meet Thursday to discuss (surely, "approve") president's decisions.

  • Stock market falls again.

  • Massive demonstration in Sfax, followed by tear gas.

  • Hatem Bettahar, assistant professor (said to be a French citizen) shot dead – apparently by a government sniper in Douz.

  • Protests in Hammamet (important tourist destination). One or more dead; police station burned.

  • Ruling party headquarters in Dar Chaabane (Nabeul) on fire

  • Army increasingly visible on the streets of Tunis and other cities.

  • President Ben Ali should have created 810 new jobs by now, in line with Monday's promise of an extra 300,000 jobs over two years.

  • Hamma Hammami, Communist Party spokesman, arrested.

  • Former political prisoner Lamari Ahmed arrested.

  • Abdelwahhab Maatar, lawyer for rapper El Général, reportedly arrested.

  • Headquarters of ruling party in Sfax said to be on fire.

  • Curfew declared in Tunis and suburbs from 8pm tonight until 5.30am tomorrow. Air France/KLM cancel late-night flight from Paris to Tunis.

  • Some of presidential family reportedly arrive in Canada.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 12 Jan 2011.