Fears Of Old Regime Haunt New Tunisia

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TUNIS, Tunisia, July 27 (UPI) — Though critics fear a return of the old system, a former regime official in Tunisia said openness is the path to reform.

A protest suicide sparked the Jasmine Revolution in December that ended President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s tenure after more than 23 years in power.

The government that took control after Ben Ali’s departure disbanded his secular Constitutional Democratic Rally, or RCD, in March. As many as 9,000 members are barred from competing in an October election for a constitutional assembly.

Former members, however, have reconstituted their political activity in new parties. Mohamed Jegham, a former minister of interior and defense, leads the newly formed al-Watan. He told the Financial Times that not all former regime officials were bad elements.

“There are hundreds of thousands of worthy people who were RCD members but had no involvement in corruption and know how to build up the country,” he was quoted as saying. “They cannot be excluded with the stroke of a pen.”

Critics, however, say former regime officials are plotting a coup and are working behind the scenes to block true reform in Tunisia.

European leaders early this year agreed to help fund political transition in Tunisia.

Opposition groups told al-Jazeera early this month that demonstrators were blocked from government installations and many of the original grievances remained.

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