TUNISIAN President Ben Ali has dismissed his interior minister and ordered the release of most of those detained during the current clashes over food prices and mass unemployment, during which up to 50 workers and youth were killed by security forces.
Under pressure from the developing revolution, Ben Ali has also appointed a special committee to investigate the corrupt and dictatorial actions of state officials.
Ahmed Friaa will replace Rafik Belhaj Kacem as the Minister of the Interior.
After Ben Ali’s announcement thousands of people took to the streets of the capital Tunis, despite the deployment of armed troops throughout the capital.
Clearly the masses of youth, particularly, have decided that they are going to fight, and not put up with the current regime’s policy, which can only offer the masses hunger and unemployment.
Prior to the sacking of the Interior minister, masses of youth had attacked food stores, set fire to banks and attacked government buildings.
The strike action in Kasserine, the centre of the uprising, is still continuing.
With food too expensive to buy and unemployment on the rise, the sacking of the Interior minister is too little too late, and will merely serve to make workers bolder and more determined in their mass actions, fanning the flames of the developing revolution.
People in the streets say that they are furious about rapidly rising prices, unemployment, state repression and state corruption. They are demanding a clear out of the government, the jailing of the bankers and profiteers, and a workers government that will defend the ordinary people.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ghannouchi announced the creation of a committee of investigation into corruption, and that ‘The president has decided to free all those arrested in the riots.’
Just three days ago President Ali had denounced the mass actions as ‘terrorist acts’ organised by foreigners, and had vowed that the state would deal with them.
There are reports that an attempt was made by security forces to storm the headquarters of the Tunisian trade unions in the capital.
People rushed to the headquarters and chanted ‘Go away, Ben Ali’, forcing the police to beat a hasty retreat to their barracks.
The death of a young unemployed graduate on 17 December began the country-wide strikes and clashes with the police.
Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in Sidi Bouzid – 200km (125 miles) south-east of Tunis – when local officials prevented him from selling vegetables on the streets without permission. He protested that he would starve, but his pleas were rejected.
The raging mass movement has frightened the United States that it is going to be driven out of North Africa.
US state department spokesman Mark Toner said the Obama administration was ‘deeply concerned by reports of the use of excessive force by the government of Tunisia’.
The uprising in Tunisia, has meanwhile encouraged the masses of Algeria to take to the streets against rising prices.
Food prices are shooting upwards all over North Africa and the Middle East, as part of a worldwide rise in the price of basics such as wheat, meat, sugar, cotton and oil that reached record levels last month according to the latest United Nations Food and Agriculture (FAO) report.
There are warnings that price increases will escalate over the next four months, and set off mass actions all over North Africa and the Middle East.
The essence of the situation is that the worldwide crisis of the capitalist system is sharpening the class struggle all over the world, and is driving forward the world socialist revolution.
Sections of the Fourth International must be built in all countries to provide the necessary leadership in this struggle to smash capitalism and imperialism to lay the basis for a world socialist republic and a worldwide planned economy.