The demise of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia by a popular uprising is a first in the Arab world and shows that the aging despots of the region must provide more freedom to their people or risk a similar fate.
Democracy proponents were overjoyed to learn that Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali –- who has ruled Tunisia with an iron hand since 1987 -– has fled the country and handed power to his prime minister. While it may take some time for a more representative government to emerge, what has happened is already an earthquake in a part of the world best known for political stagnation. Egypt, under its octogenarian leader Hosni Mubarak, should especially take heed and make sure that next year’s presidential elections are not an empty show
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