Who will emerge as the leaders of this popular movement? Will they demand true democratic reforms? Or will they unleash further conflict with competing movements based on Islamic fundamentalism? Or will they produce nothing but chaos, backlash and a return to autocratic rule? Here's hoping that a Lech Walesa or Vaclev Havel of Tunisia emerges and takes this movement in a positive direction.
Here is the President's statement yesterday on Tunisia:
I condemn and deplore the use of violence against citizens peacefully voicing their opinion in Tunisia, and I applaud the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people. The United States stands with the entire international community in bearing witness to this brave and determined struggle for the universal rights that we must all uphold, and we will long remember the images of the Tunisian people seeking to make their voices heard. I urge all parties to maintain calm and avoid violence, and call on the Tunisian government to respect human rights, and to hold free and fair elections in the near future that reflect the true will and aspirations of the Tunisian people.Here is Secretary of State Clinton's:
As I have said before, each nation gives life to the principle of democracy in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people, and those countries that respect the universal rights of their people are stronger and more successful than those that do not. I have no doubt that Tunisia's future will be brighter if it is guided by the voices of the Tunisian people.
The United States continues to closely monitor the rapidly evolving events in Tunisia, where earlier today President Ben Ali left his country following several weeks of demonstrations and popular unrest. We condemn the violence and urge restraint on all sides.And here is the statement of John Birks Gillespie. Enjoy:
Clearly this is a moment of significant transition in Tunisia and through this period and beyond it is important that the Tunisian Government respect the right of its people to peacefully assemble and express their views. We look to the Tunisian Government to build a stronger foundation for Tunisia's future with economic, social, and political reforms, and call for free and fair elections in the near future that reflect the true will and aspirations of the Tunisian people.
On my trip to the Middle East this week, I heard people everywhere yearning for economic opportunity, political participation and the chance to build a better future. Young people especially need to have a meaningful role in the decisions that shape their lives. Addressing these concerns will be challenging, but the United States stands ready to help.
The United States has a long and historic relationship with Tunisia. We are committed to helping the people and government bring peace and stability to their country and we hope that they will work together to build a stronger, more democratic society that respects the rights of all people.