January 17, 2011 / 4:17 PM / 10 years ago

Arabs should consider lesson of Tunisia: League

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - The Arab League chief said on Monday Arab states should consider the lesson of Tunisia after protests over prices and repression toppled its president.

Arab states have made little or no comment about events in Tunisia that rattled a region of authoritarian leaders like ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Egypt has dismissed talk of contagion. Libya said the protesters were too hasty in toppling their president.

“We have to follow closely what is happening in Tunisia. And we hope that the people there will end up by building the system they want. And of course, there is a lesson and there is a message from what happened in Tunisia,” Arab League chief Amr Moussa said.

He was speaking to reporters at an Arab economic summit in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in response to a question about whether developments in Tunisia might have a ripple effect across the Middle East.

He did not mention specific issues that prompted the Tunisian protests, but said: “The Arab society has a lot of similar elements building, acting and reacting, so we can’t just consider Tunisia an isolated incident.”

Moussa has a reputation for outspoken political comments in a region where caution or reticence is more common.

Populations across the Arab world grumble about the same problems that sent Tunisians onto the streets: surging prices, poverty, a growing gap between rich and poor and systems of rule that offer them no political voice.

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