Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

Tunisia: The New Order in 2011

A new government, headed by Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, was established on 17 January 2011, but this did not calm the protesters, who denounced the presence in the government of ministers of Ben Ali’s ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Constitutionel Démocratique, RCD) party. They demanded the wholesale dismantling of the former regime and the ruling party.

This resulted, on 27 January 2011, in the reshuffling of the Ministers of Defence, Finance, Interior, and Foreign Affairs, key positions that had, until then, been occupied by members of the RCD. Protesters continued to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi himself, and he stepped down on 27 February 2011, to be replaced by Beji Caid al-Sebsi, a lawyer and politician who had earlier served as an adviser to the government of Bourguiba.

Shortly afterward, Beji Caid al-Sebsi announced elections to form a constituent assembly, which was tasked with rewriting Tunisia’s Constitution, and he established an electoral commission tasked with organizing elections. The moderate Islamist Ennahda party, led by Rashid Ghannoushi, was banned under the previous regimes.

With the downfall of the Ben Ali regime, Ennahda was legalized, along with more than one hundred other political parties that emerged throughout the country. When elections took place, on 23 October 2011, Ennahda, by far the best organized and most widely connected party, emerged as the clear winner.