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(official); French President: Zine
El Abidine Ben Ali
Tunisian Republic Religion: Islam
Fertilizer Financing Mechanism The AFFM will work
multilaterally - in concert with African
governments, regional institutions, the private
sector, other development banks, and
international donors - to study the fertilizer
value-added chain in detail, focusing particular
attention on the key transnational factors
impeding fertilizer use in order to develop
comprehensive strategies for jump-starting
Africa's stagnant agricultural productivity.
The African Development Bank hosts the AFFM as a
special fund, similar to the African Water
Facility, the NEPAD Infrastructure Project
Preparation Facility, and other such funds. The
AFFM will have a Governing Council, a
Coordinator, and staff deemed necessary to carry
out the activities of the Mechanism. To
facilitate start-up actions, the Government of
Nigeria has generously provided an initial
contribution of U.S. $10 million, and other
donors have also expressed keen interest.
the ancient city of Carthage, Tunisia has
long been an important player in the
Mediterranean, placed as it is in the
centre of North Africa, close to vital
time, the Romans, Arabs, Ottoman Turks and
French realised its strategic
significance, making it a hub for control
over the region.
rule ended in 1956, and Tunisia was led for
three decades by Habib Bourguiba, who advanced
secular ideas. These included emancipation for
women - women's rights in Tunisia are among the
most advanced in the Arab world - the abolition
of polygamy and compulsory free education.
Politics: Tunisia has
been relatively stable and prosperous
under the leadership of President Ben
Ali since 1987; human rights groups
criticise the suppression of dissent
Economy: The diverse
economy has been growing steadily in
recent years; Tunisia has been praised
for halving its slum population
has strong ties with the European Union;
its peacekeepers have served in several
insisted on an anti-Islamic fundamentalist line,
while increasing his own powers to become a
In 1987 he was
dismissed on grounds of senility and Zine El
Abidine Ben Ali became president. He continued
with a hard line against Islamic extremists, but
inherited an economically-stable country.
Tunisia has introduced some press freedoms and
has freed a number of political prisoners, human
rights groups say the authorities tolerate no
dissent, harrassing government critics and
Mr Ben Ali
faced reproach at home and abroad for his
party's three "99.9%" election wins. The
opposition condemned changes to the constitution
which allowed him to run for re-election in
2004, and in 2009.
Tunisia is more
prosperous than its neighbours and has strong
trade links with Europe. Agriculture employs a
large part of the workforce, and dates and
olives are cultivated in the drier regions.
Millions of European tourists flock to Tunisian
resorts every year.
violence is rare, but militant Islamists have
become an issue of concern for the authorities.
A suicide bomb attack on an historic synagogue
in the resort of Djerba in 2002 killed 21 people
and led to a dramatic drop in tourist numbers.
suspected Islamists were killed in shoot-outs
with security forces in and around Tunis at the
end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007. Lawyers
say hundreds of people have been arrested on
suspicion of links with terrorist groups since
2003, when the authorities gained new powers of
Ali, who has been in power since 1987, won a
fifth term in office in multi-party elections in
Ben Ali has been
president since 1987
were criticised by human rights groups and the
opposition as unfair. Official results gave him
ninety per cent of the vote and his party also
won the majority of seats in the Chamber of
Mr Ben Ali,
from the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally
(RCD), had been due to retire in 2004 but
changes to the constitution allowed him to run
for two more terms.
Born in 1936 in
Hammam Sousse, Mr Ben Ali was Tunisia's
ambassador in Warsaw in 1980 and became prime
minister in October 1987.
He was sworn in
as the new president in 1987, after doctors
declared President Habib Bourguiba unfit to
govern because of senility. The takeover is
sometimes described as a palace coup.
and some political opponents say Tunisia's
government is authoritarian with a veneer of
pluralism. They say it stifles free speech and
beats and jails opponents, something the
freedom of opinion and expression is guaranteed
by the Tunisian constitution, the government
tightly controls the press and broadcasting.
Tunisian Radio and Television Establishment (ERTT)
operates two national TV channels and several
pan-Arab satellite TV stations command large
audiences. Two London-based opposition TV
channels can be received via satellite; Al
Mustaqillah TV and Zeitouna TV. Until late 2003
the state had a monopoly on radio broadcasting.
shape coverage and stipulate large fines and
prison sentences for violators. Journals are
screened by the authorities before publication
and the government encourages a high degree of
self-censorship. Media rights organisations say
the intimidation of journalists is widespread.
corruption and human rights in the media is
taboo. Editions of foreign newspapers, including
French and pan-Arab publications, are regularly
seized. There are several privately-run
newspapers and magazines, including two
opposition party journals.
monitoring is omnipresent. Websites which
criticise the government are often blocked.
There were some 1.7 million internet users by