A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Panel of Wise Men to Replace Transitional Government?

There are reports that talks are under way in Tunisia to replace the transitional government with a panel of "wise men" to oversee a transition to democracy, in response to continuing protests against the presence of figures in the former government in the transitional Cabinet. In addition, General Rachid Ammar, the eminence grise of the revolution, publicly was quoted as warning that a "power vacuum" could lead to dictatorship.

One interesting point in these reports is the mention that one of the "wise men" being considered is Ahmed Mestiri, the veteran opposition figure who broke with Bourguiba in the 1950s, founded the Movement of Socialist Democrats (MDS), and spent much time in jail and house arrest. Mestiri is 85 years old, stepped down as head of the MDS in 1989, and is retired from politics, but he is still a potent symbol of a longtime opponent of the government.

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