But is Tunisia getting change?
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Tunisia's caretaker prime minister announced a new coalition government following the ouster of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali--a move that temporarily fills the country's power vacuum and should help to stabilize the tense North African country after massive street protests.
Mohamed Ghannouchi, the prime minister and a longtime ally of Mr. Ben Ali, and several top ministers retained their posts in Monday's shake-up--and three opposition leaders along with other independent politicians joined the government in a first for the country.
Tunisia experts here and in Tunis tell me that the top posts have gone to the ruling party, with the opposition getting minor posts. However, the imposition of order is a precursor to progress toward democratic elections.
The new government also includes three leaders of the legal opposition as well as representatives of civil society. But it excludes banned political parties including the Communists and the Islamist Ennahdha party.
Ghannouchi said however that all political parties will be allowed, media will be freed and a lifting of restrictions on non-governmental organisation including Tunisia's main human rights group, the Human Rights League. . . .
The new government also scrapped the information ministry -- a widely hated organ responsible for official propaganda and media controls under Ben Ali's 23 years in power.
While those in Tunisia tell me there is no specific sign of an Islamist presence yet, it remains a real concern for those pressing for a secularized, democratic government.
One final note: while Muslim autocrats in the region have reason to worry, Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations makes a convincing case that regimes do not face the same threat of instability. In Jordan and Morocco, for example, the kings in those countries enjoy a "perceived legitimacy."
Nevertheless, George W. Bush must be pleased to see the debate breakout over the best route to Middle East democracy. It was only a few years that the liberal elite assured us that Muslim self-rule was a fantasy.
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