15 Jan 2012

1st anniversary marked of uprising in Tunisia

8:23 am on 15 January 2012

Tunisia on Saturday marked the first anniversary of the ousting of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, an event that triggered the Arab Spring.

Crowds filled Bourguiba Avenue in the capital, Tunis, where weeks of mass protests forced Mr Ben Ali to step down on 14 January 2011. He then fled to Saudi Arabia with his family.

A number of North African and Middle Eastern leaders attended the events.

President Moncef Marzouki reassured the people that their sacrifices a year ago would not be wasted.

In a televised broadcast, he said the revolution had opened the door to a bright future.

Saturday was declared a national holiday. President Marzouki marked the event by granting pardons to 9000 prisoners and commuting 122 death sentences.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that the world was inspired by Tunisia's demands for freedom.

However, the BBC reports Tunisia still faces serious problems including steep unemployment, social unrest and corruption.

The Tunisian uprising was inspired by the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, a young market trader, who set himself alight in front of a town hall in protest at petty corruption.

His death in December 2010 sparked weeks of mass protests.

Ben Ali was sentenced in absentia last June, along with his wife Leila, to 35 years in prison