Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Sebsi on August 18 said his government would take a tougher line on allies of the ousted president, responding to calls to put more of them behind bars. Thousands of people protested on August 15 in the capital and provincial cities over what they see as the authorities’ failure to break with the legacy of Zine Abidine Ben Ali, the leader toppled in a revolution that inspired the “Arab Spring.” The protests were sparked by the release of former Justice Minister Bechir Tekkari from prison and the news that Saida Agrebi, a friend of Ben Ali’s wife, had fled to Paris.
Tunisia electrified the Middle East in January when mass protests forced Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia. Tunisia’s revolution became the template for uprisings across the Arab world. However, caretaker authorities running the country have struggled to restore stability. Protests and strikes break out regularly. Many of those who supported the revolution suspect Ben Ali’s allies of trying quietly to claw back power, in collusion with friends in the caretaker government.