Tunis — Tunisians on Tuesday (January 14th) celebrated the third anniversary of the ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime amid a political breakthrough, but in a climate of persistent economic and security concerns.
President Moncef Marzouki, outgoing Prime Minister Ali Larayedh and Tunisian Parliament Speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar took part in a limited ceremony, raising the flag at Kasbah Square where the government headquarters are located.
Larayedh's designated successor, Mehdi Jomaa and the country's grand mufti also participated in the event.
Not far from the Kasbah, a UGTT rally drew hoards of protesters, Tunisie Numerique reported.
Thousands turned out on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the cradle of the uprising three years ago.
Moez Adib, 32, a day labourer from El Kef province, said, "We haven't yet realised the goals for which we revolted."
"We were waiting for development projects and employment, but we only got weapons and terrorism," he said. "It's true that certain gains have been made on the political front, but they haven't been reflected on popular classes and haven't touched their concerns."
Abdeljalil Belhaj Ali, 37, an employee, said, "The January 14th revolution created a quantum leap in our country by ridding it of dictatorship."
But citizens' goals remain unmet, Ali agreed.
"That's why we're here now to remind people of these goals and we're full of hope and optimism," he noted.
In a speech broadcast on Al-Wataniya channel on Monday, President Moncef Marzouki admitted, "Three years after the victory of revolution, the country is still far from realising the goals for which the martyrs and wounded have sacrificed."
"We have not yet asked those who destroyed the country and stole its wealth and those involved in corruption or torture for explanations. We did not manage to promote development either," he said.
But Tunisia realised a miracle, he said, by preserving the cohesion of state and not sliding into a civil war.
He credited that success to the discipline of the army and security forces, the continued work of presidential and government institutions, and Tunisians' acceptance of co-existence.
He added that Tunisia was on the right track, and called for speeding up the next election.
Nouha Belgayed, a 21-year-old medical student, celebrated the anniversary of the revolution but stressed the need to fix the security chaos.
"We can't put a time ceiling for realising the goals of revolution," her friend Arwa Gaàloul said. "We may need years."