Monday, 26 October 2009

Ben Ali wins again

Ben Ali and wife - voting
The incumbent president of Tunisia, Ben Ali, got a ticket for another five-year term. The elderly statesman presides over a corrupt system run by himself, his close relatives and a loyal clique of cronies.

Again the election was rigged in Ben Alis favour. Any legitimacy that he could have claimed stemming from the 1987 coup d'état that deposed President Habib Bourguiba is long gone.

His grip to power is only possible thanks to the uber-present security apparatus, in particular to the feared General Directorate of Public Security. Ali's grip on the media and the economy should also be taken into account. No paragraph gets published without censorship approval. No deal is made without the presidential blessing, and obviously a cut for the Ali clan. But further to this, Ali´s power rests on a largely indifferent populace and absent intelligentsia,  for which daily human rights abuses seem to be of no consequence.

Maybe it is all for the best: Tunisia knows only dictatorship and Islam. If Ali's falls, what are the chances democracy will be on the menu?