Tunisians, among them policemen, gather to ask for the right to form unions and better salaries as the vehicle of Tunisia's interim president, Fouad Mbazaa, arrives at the government palace in Tunis.
Tunisians, among them policemen, gather to ask for the right to form unions and better salaries as the vehicle of Tunisia's interim president, Fouad Mbazaa, arrives at the government palace in Tunis.

Tunisia's prime minister to quit politics after new elections

TUNIS // A nerve-wracking first week for Tunisia's interim government ended yesterday.

The prime minister, Rachid Ghannouchi, announced in an emotional television appearance on Friday that he would end his political career after presidential and legislative elections expected in the next few months.

Until then Tunisia will be led by Mr Ghannouchi's interim government, a coalition hammered together last weekend when the ousted president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled the country after weeks of protests over unemployment and corruption.

While some Tunisians support the government, it has run into opposition from protesters who want it purged of Mr Ben Ali's political machine, the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally party (RCD).

Mr Ghannouchi has promised free elections and a new constitution, and the government says it will look into political reform and investigate the corruption that led to Mr Ben Ali's removal.

However, anti-government protesters have turned the centre of Tunis, the capital, into a daily carnival of banners, slogans and raucous demonstrations.

Yesterday hundreds of protesters broke through a police cordon around Mr Ghannouchi's office, with one banner reading "No men of tyranny in a national unity government".

Hundreds of policemen, long viewed as the protectors of Mr Ben Ali's regime, assembled outside the interior ministry, demanding the creation of a labour union for police.

"I'm here to say 'No' to the RCD, and to gain the trust of the people," one policeman said. "Our neighbours see us as enemies, but we're victims, too."

On Friday some protests took on a religious tone as Tunisians emerged from the country's first Friday prayer since Mr Ben Ali's departure. One group of several dozen marched through central Tunis chanting, "There is no god but God, and the RCD is the enemy of God".

About 2,000 protesters mobbed the RCD's towering headquarters in central Tunis on Thursday, with several scaling a fence to break off letters from the building's sign.

The government jailed thousands of political dissidents during Mr Ben Ali's 23 years in power, and security services have often been accused of torture. Police have used batons and tear gas to quell protests, including in recent weeks.

The government says at least 78 people died in the unrest of the past month, as police opened fire on protesters. Authorities have said police used force only in self-defence, or to protect lives and public property.

Mehdi Msallma, a middle-school art teacher at the protest, said: "When police committed abuses they were often under orders; they need a union to protect themselves from such orders. We're building a new Tunisia now, and that needs good relations between the police and the people."

With street politics the order of the day, politicians have been scrambling to appease the crowds.

Mr Ghannouchi and other RCD members of the interim cabinet resigned from the party last week. Four opposition cabinet members and one minister from the RCD have backed out of their posts.

Opposition members of the government have argued that it would be unrealistic to exclude the vast RCD, which dominates both the cabinet and Tunisia's civil service.

Despite the continuing political crisis, calm is returning to Tunisia after looting and gunfights in the capital last weekend between the army and members of Mr Ben Ali's security force.

Schools and universities are expected to re-open on Tuesday, after being closed two weeks ago as protests gripped some campuses. A curfew imposed in Tunis last weekend has moved from 5pm to 8pm.

However, the country still faces serious economic problems. Economic growth in recent years has masked high unemployment among young people and in rural regions.

Protests over unemployment and corruption that began last month in the rural town of Sidi Bouzid spread across the country and spiralled into calls for Mr Ben Ali's immediate resignation.


Started: November 2017

Founders: Mounir Nakhla, Ahmed Mohsen and Mohamed Aboulnaga

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport and logistics

Size: 150+ employees

Investment: approximately $8 million

Investors include: Singapore’s Battery Road Digital Holdings, Egypt’s Algebra Ventures, Uber co-founder and former CTO Oscar Salazar

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000


Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Day 2, Dubai Test: At a glance

Moment of the day Pakistan’s effort in the field had hints of shambles about it. The wheels were officially off when Wahab Riaz lost his run up and aborted the delivery four times in a row. He re-measured his run, jogged in for two practice goes. Then, when he was finally ready to go, he bailed out again. It was a total cringefest.

Stat of the day – 139.5 Yasir Shah has bowled 139.5 overs in three innings so far in this Test series. Judged by his returns, the workload has not withered him. He has 14 wickets so far, and became history’s first spinner to take five-wickets in an innings in five consecutive Tests. Not bad for someone whose fitness was in question before the series.

The verdict Stranger things have happened, but it is going to take something extraordinary for Pakistan to keep their undefeated record in Test series in the UAE in tact from this position. At least Shan Masood and Sami Aslam have made a positive start to the salvage effort.

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

A little about CVRL

Founded in 1985 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL) is a government diagnostic centre that provides testing and research facilities to the UAE and neighbouring countries.

One of its main goals is to provide permanent treatment solutions for veterinary related diseases. 

The taxidermy centre was established 12 years ago and is headed by Dr Ulrich Wernery. 

RedCrow Intelligence Company Profile

Started: 2016

Founders: Hussein Nasser Eddin, Laila Akel, Tayeb Akel 

Based: Ramallah, Palestine

Sector: Technology, Security

# of staff: 13

Investment: $745,000

Investors: Palestine’s Ibtikar Fund, Abu Dhabi’s Gothams and angel investors

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