Timeline of major political events in Tunisia
Created by voaweb on Jan 19, 2011
Last updated: 07/29/11 at 03:43 PM
A Tunisian court sentenced former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, his daughter and son-in-law in absentia to serve prison terms and ordered them to pay $100 million in damages for illicit property deals. The court convicted Ben Ali of corruption and abuse of power.
Ousted Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Aliand his wife have been convicted in absentia of embezzlement and other charges after jewels and public funds were found in one of their palaces. They were sentenced to 35 years each in prison.
The judge also ruled that Ben Ali and his wife, Leila Trabelsi, would have to pay fines totaling $65.6 million.
Tunisia's judicial authorities were readying 18 charges against former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali that include a range of alleged crimes from drug trafficking to voluntary manslaughter.
A Tunisian court dissolved the political party of deposed President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The court also decided to liquidate the assets and funds of Democratic Constitutional Rally, or RCD.
Tunisia's prime minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi, announced his resignation amid ongoing protests for the entire government to step down.
Caretaker government began freeing political prisoners in a bid to calm protests. Hundreds took to the streets of Tunis, calling for old guard to leave new government. U.N. said more than 100 had died since the uprising began. Prosecutors began looking into overseas assets of ousted first family.
Tunisians and opposition parties protested makeup of new government. Several ministers resigned or threatened to resign in disapproval. Mohamed Ghannouchi and Fouad Mebazaa resigned from Ben Ali’s Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party.
Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi announced a new unity government, promising reforms and increased freedoms. Several Ben Ali cronies to head Finance, Foreign, Defense and Interior ministries.
Newly freed from jail, cyber-activist Slim Amamou was named Secretary of State for Sport and Youth.
Tunisian military grappled with restoring law and order. Members of the former President Ben Ali/Trabelsi family were arrested. Mrs. Ben Ali’s nephew Imed Trabelsi was stabbed to death in a Tunis military hospital. Interior Minister Rafik Belhaj was arrested for his role in the violence against protesters.
Saudi Arabia announced Ben Ali and family were in Jeddah and would remain there for an undetermined period of time. Looting took place in Tunisian cities. Former speaker of the lower house of parliament, Fouad Mebazaa, sworn in as president.
In an attempt to soothe protesters, President Ben Ali declared a state of emergency and presidential elections in six months. Later, he and his family fled the country. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi took control of the country.
President Ben Ali appeared on state television, announcing reforms and concessions and promising to step down at the end of his term in 2014.
Lawyers spoke out against police violence. Video of their protest was posted on the blog Nawaat.
Global Voices Online reported that lawyers have launched a strike; Tunisian police arrested prominent web activist Slim Amamou, among other bloggers. Rapper Le General was also arrested.
Mohamed Bouazizi, the youth who set himself on fire, died of his burns. Tunisian Bar Association called for a general strike for Jan. 6 to protest police beatings of lawyers.
Tunisian cell of activist hacker group "Anonymous" attacked and shut down government websites, calling it “Operation Payback.” Meanwhile, blogger activist Lina Ben Mhenni and others complained their Facebook and e-mail sites had been hacked.
Rapper Hamada Ben-Amor, better known as Le General, posted song Mr. President, Your People are Dying on his Facebook page. Sung in French, he told President Ben Ali, “I’m addressing you today in my name and in the name of the people who are suffering… they want to work for a living, but their voice is not heard.” If Bouazizi sparked the revolution, Le Generalset it to music.
Lawyers across the country assembled in peaceful protest against events in Sidi Bouzid and the arrests of lawyers. Authorities used force against lawyers. Blogger Lina Ben Mhenni published photo of a bruised woman lawyer, Leila Ben Debba.
President Ben Ali appeared on state TV, calling protesters “extremists" and warning they would be punished. Demonstrations continued. Lawyers held rally in Tunis and several other cities in show of support of protesters. Al Arabiya network reported three Tunisian ministers are fired.
Protests continued to spread across country. Government began Internet monitoring and censorship.
Police shot and killed 18-year-old protester Mohamed Ammari during demonstrations in Menzel Bouzaiene.
Tunisian Development Minister Mohamed Al Nouri Al Juwayni attempted to defuse situation, announcing $10 million employment program.
22-year-old Houcine Falhi committed suicide by electrocuting himself in Sidi Bouzid, after shouting out "No to misery, no to unemployment!"
Rioting continued in Sidi Bouzid. Police brought in reinforcements. Pictures and photos posted onto Facebook and other social networking sites showed youths attempting to storm regional government headquarters. Rioting spread to other towns across the country.
Frustrated youths rioted in the streets of Sidi Bouzid. Police arrested scores of demonstrators, but the night’s unrest was ignored by Tunisian state media.
Sidi Bouzid police confiscated the unlicensed market stall of 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi. He set himself on fire in response. It was not the first self-immolation in Tunisia over joblessness, but it would become the most celebrated.
Tunisia blocked WikiLeaks and TuniLeaks websites.
Pro-Hezbollah Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar published more than 180 U.S. diplomatic cables not yet released by WikiLeaks - among them, cables from former U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, who painted a portrait of a corrupt and decadent Tunisian first family.
WikiLeaks published first of a series of U.S. diplomatic cables. One hour later, blog site Nawaat created its own version, TuniLeaks.
President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali won a fifth term in a vote which Human Rights Watch called “tainted.” Country witnessed growing jobless rate, especially among university graduates, restrictions on press and other personal freedoms.
Economist’s 2008 Democracy Index categorized Tunisia as “authoritarian,” ranking it 141 out of 167 countries studied.
Voters passed constitutional amendment eliminating term limits and raising maximum age for presidents to 75. This amendment was the latest in a series designed to enable Ben Ali to remain in office.
Voters passed constitutional amendments increasing presidential term limits.
Prime Minister Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali impeached Bourguiba, declared himself president of Tunisia, citing Bourguiba's advancing age and ill health.
National Assembly named Habib Bourguiba “president-for-life.”
Habib Bourguiba officially became president of the new republic after abolishing the monarchy and deposing old king.