Last Friday, Tunisian President Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia in response to a month-long political uprising. Yesterday, Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi formed a unity government — a government that includes officials that served under ousted President Ben Ali. But Tunisian protestors want change and most refuse to accept any government that includes members of the old, autocratic regime. Many Tunisians have never known another type of government: since gaining independence from France in 1956, Tunisia has been ruled by brutally repressive dictators.
So how has Tunisia’s storied political history shaped the country’s current political unrest? Joining us to look at Tunisia from a historical perspective is Professor James McDougall, historian of North Africa at Oxford. Kristen Chick, correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor has updates from Tunis.