Tunisian citizens protest the President, lack of civil liberties

Tunisian demonstrators shout slogans against president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in front the Interior ministry on the in Habib Bourguiba avenue of Tunis.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: This morning, hundreds of tourists are being evacuated from the North African Mediterranean country, Tunisia. There's a general strike today following a month of deadly violence there. Protesters have taken to the streets. People have been speaking out against high food prices, unemployment and a lack of civil liberties. Last night, the Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali tried to end the unrest by announcing he wouldn't seek re-election. He also ordered a price cut for some basic foods and promised a more democratic society.

The BBC's Adam Mynott joins us from the capital Tunis. Hi Adam.

ADAN MYNOTT: Hi there good morning to you.

CHIOTAKIS: People who don't have jobs and they can't afford food -- they've been taking to the streets to send this message to the President. The President spoke last night. Did he do any good?

MYNOTT: It certainly did seem to open up the democratic space because people have gathered in the thousands in the middle of the capitol Tunis this morning to say that they do want change in this country. But the message they're giving is that that change can only come if President Ben Ali stands down. They say that he is leading a corrupt government and the future for Tunisia must be a future without him.

CHIOTAKIS: What more needs to happen Adam for this violence to stop?

MYNOTT: I think really the protest has reached such a momentum now that it is going to continue. President Ben Ali said when he spoke to the nation on television last night that live weapons would not be used at rallies in the future. That was welcomed. He said he wanted to open up the country to more free speech. That was the right thing. But the message that the country is very clearly putting out is that this can only happen if he and what is described as his corrupt administration leaves the country as quickly as possible.

CHIOTAKIS: The BBC's Adam Mynott joining us from Tunis. Adam, thank you.

MYNOTT: Thank you Steve.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...