Jan. 14 - Tunisia holds celebrations in the capital to mark the first anniversary of leader Ben Ali's departure, which paved the way for the 'Arab Spring'. Sunita Rappai reports.
It was the event that paved the way for the Arab Spring - and one year on, Tunisians are remembering and celebrating. Thousands thronged the streets of the capital Tunis to mark the first anniversary of their autocratic leader, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's departure. He fled last January 14 after the army chief of staff refused to use troops to disperse anti-government protests. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED MAN, SAYING: "The Tunisian people showed the peoples of the world and the Arab world how to break the barrier of fear in their minds. The Tunisian people do not accept the lessons of the Arab reactionaries." (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN, SAYING: "God bless our martyrs. Because it is thanks to them we are here, and people should understand that Tunisia is not owned by one person. And we must try to rise in our country because we want it to be the best." Despite some progress however - the country elected its own government last October and media restrictions have been relaxed - living standards have not improved for many. Unemployment has risen and tourists continue to stay away - leaving some frustrated. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CHOKRI BELAID FROM A LEFT-WING POLITICAL PARTY, SAYING: "We are not celebrating, because the people have not achieved the goals of this revolution in employment, development is non-existent, the killers of the martyrs have not been tried, marginalisation still exists, suppression of freedoms still exists, and media personnel are being beaten." The new Tunisian government, an Islamist-led coalition led by former political prisoner Moncef Marzouki, has declared January 14 a national holiday. Sunita Rappai, Reuters