Thousands of Tunisians celebrate anniversary of revolution

Tunis (AFP) –


Thousands gathered in the heart of Tunisia's capital Tuesday to celebrate the ninth anniversary of the popular revolution that deposed dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

On a flag-filled Habib Bourguiba Avenue, parents, children, men and women of all ages marched in a festive atmosphere, and gathered around musical groups.

Some held signs aloft, including "A people that managed to get rid of the dictatorship is capable of creating a better future" and "Impossible is not Tunisian!".

"I came with my children to relive the events of an important day in Tunisia's history," 44-year-old Mohamed Majed told AFP. "Despite the political situation, we are proud of our revolution".

A heavy security presence was deployed along Bourguiba Avenue.

Close by, several hundred people gathered in front of the headquarters of the UGTT union confederation, shouting "Work! Freedom! Dignity!", the revolution's main slogan.

Addressing the crowd, Noureddine Tabboubi, secretary-general of the powerful confederation, denounced a political class that he said wanted "to divide Tunisians".

"Nine years have passed, and the political scene has gone rotten, with politicians who are more interested in power than the interests of the country", Tabboubi said.

The deterioration of the situation, he added, had made the Tunisian state "weak, without prestige and incapable of enforcing the law".

"We will not allow political amateurs to spread despair. The revolution will go on until the real republic has been established", he vowed.

The anniversary celebration took place against a tense political backdrop, after Tunisia's parliament last Friday rejected a government put forward by the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party.

Ennahdha emerged from October legislative elections with more seats than any other party, but was still far short of a majority.

It now falls on President Kais Saied -- a fiercely independent academic with no background in politics who won a second round presidential run-off in October -- to designate a prime minister capable of winning lawmakers' confidence.

If Saied's chosen candidate fails to form a government, the legislature would be dissolved.