Anti-government protests have spread like wildfire across the Arab world in recent weeks.
The birthplace of the Arab world protests, Tunisia has continued to see daily demonstrations since President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14 in the face of the so-called “Jasmine Revolution,” a popular uprising over high prices and unemployment.
A unity government was sworn in, but some demonstrators are demanding that all officials with ties to the Ben Ali regime give up power.
President Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in September after thousands of Egyptians had taken to the streets of Cairo to demand his immediate ouster.
“If we use 1989 and Eastern Europe as a model, Tunisia was Poland and Egypt would be the fall of the Berlin Wall and that will have a ripple effect,” said Michael Collins Dunn, an Egypt analyst and editor of the Middle East Journal at the Middle East Institute in Washington. “If Mubarak follows Ben Ali out of the door, we will see something that will be attempted to be imitated in a lot of other countries.”
Tunisia’s neighbor also has been rocked by unrest. Demonstrators have been calling for a “radical change of the regime” and riots in early January left five dead and more than 800 injured.
The Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, a pro-democracy group, is planning a march in Algiers on Feb. 12.
A constitutional amendment passed in 2008 allowed President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in office since 1999, to run for a third term.
Opposition groups are demanding the ouster of the government and the end of its 19-year state of emergency.
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Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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