January 16, 2011 / 3:50 PM / in 8 years

Tunisia in coalition talks

TUNIS (Reuters) - Following is reaction from analysts, politicians and commentators on the situation in Tunisia.

BEIRUT-BASED COMMENTATOR RAMI KHOURI

“There isn’t really a single, main, unified opposition movement ... So you have a real variety — the secularists, the leftists, the democracy and human rights people, the Islamists in different forms. It’s going to take a little time for the opposition to coalesce. Probably there will be two main groups — an Islamist-led one that will probably end up being Turkish-style Islamists, more pragmatic, and a leftist, secular, nationalist, progressive-type group.

“The process will probably take weeks at least and then you have to sort out the logistics of the interim government, the unity cabinet ... you have never had an Arab country where the people can suddenly start from scratch.

“... This is maybe the first self-determinant Arab people, certainly that we have experienced in the last two or three generations. So it’s a historic process and by nature it’s slow and cumbersome and you need to still sort out the relationship with the security and the old guard and not expect it to settle quickly. We should still expect a certain amount of chaos and uncertainty but at the same time appreciate the positive things that are happening.”

HANY AL-MASRI, PALESTINIAN COMMENTATOR BASED IN RAMALLAH

“It was always said that the Arab world was boiling but the continued state of stagnation made some doubt infiltrate minds. I think this doubt has now gone.

“If there is a change that the Tunisian citizen feels and the Arab citizen sees, this will further encourage popular movements ... There is a problem: who is the alternative? If the people feel that there is an alternative, this will encourage them.”

LIBYAN LEADER MUAMMAR GADDAFI

“I am very pained by what is happening in Tunisia.

“Tunisia now lives in fear... Families could be raided and slaughtered in their bedrooms and the citizens in the street killed as if it was the Bolshevik or the American revolution.

“What is this for? To change Zine al-Abidine? Hasn’t he told you he would step down after three years? Be patient for three years and your son stays alive.

COMMENTARY ON HIS WEBSITE

“What we are witnessing is the first stage; the stakes are high, the situation fraught with danger. Anything can happen: an attempt by the regime to play for time or to manipulate the people’s demands (with a sham “new” government); shadowy manoeuvres by internal or outside forces.

“We must be equally vigilant about the role of the army.

“The people may be offered the appearance of freedom minus the dictator, followed by a new clampdown on Tunisian political life. Let us indeed hail this first victory but be aware that the outcome is far from settled.

TURKEY’S FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN SELCUK UNAL

“We are extremely concerned about the situation in Tunisia, and hope for the Tunisian people that order is restored as soon as possible without further escalation.”

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES STATEMENT

“The UAE urges the Tunisian people in this delicate moment to stick together, to maintain national unity and to thwart any attempt to undermine Tunisia or its security and stability. It is important that in the time Tunisian people should unify their ranks to safeguard the achievements of their country on the institutional, legal and constitutional basis.”

FRANCOIS BAROIN, FRENCH GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN

“We hope to see free elections organised as soon as feasible, that is in 45 to 60 days.”

NORWAY’S FOREIGN MINISTER JONAS GAHR STOERE

“Norway supports the Tunisian people’s desire for a democratic Tunisia where political and social rights are protected.”

“Changes occurring in Tunisia highlight that economic and political reform must go hand in hand, and that basic human rights must be respected. It is now imperative that all forces contribute to a peaceful transition to an enduring democratic rule in Tunisia.”

“The events in Tunis also show the challenges of many authoritarian regimes in this part of the world. Authoritarian rule and lack of democratic legitimacy makes it more difficult to deal with economic and social challenges.”

DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER URI ROSENTHAL

“I am in direct contact with our embassy in Tunis. The situation at the moment is unclear and unpredictable and I am very concerned about the violence in Tunisia. I hope that the Tunisians find a solution as quickly as possible for the problems in front of them. It is of the greatest importance that this EU neighbour can find a way out of this crisis without any more violence.”

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU

“The region in which we live is an unstable area, everybody sees this today. We see this in several points in the wider Middle East and in the broad geographical region in which we live. There is great instability. We hope that stability will be restored and we also hope that there will calm and security.”

IRAN’S PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ALI LARIJANI

“What the Tunisian people have done to achieve their rights indicates their vigilance ... but they should be careful about the efforts of certain countries that despite supporting the former regime of Tunisia, are now trying to ... take advantage of the current situation in Tunisia.

“The behaviour of America and some Western countries is ridiculous ... They are the root cause of dictatorship and pressure in Tunisia and now they pretend to sympathise with the Tunisian nation.”

NABEEL RAJAB OF BAHRAIN Centre FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

“As the Arab regimes see Tunisia as a horror movie, we see it as a movie of hope.

“Tunisia has high income levels compared to its region but not distributed in a fair manner.”

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