Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chronology 1 Dec. 20, 2010 - Feb. 11, 2011

December 24: Mohamed Ammari, an 18-year-old protester, is shot and killed by police during violent demonstrations in the central town of Menzel Bouzaiene. Chawki Belhoussine El Hadri , a 44-year-old man, is among those shot by police at the same protest. Hundreds of protesters rally in front of the Tunisian labour union headquarters over rampant unemployment, clashing with Tunisian security forces in the central towns of al-Ragab and Miknassi. Skirmishes break out when security forces stage overnight crackdown campaigns.

December 25: Rallies spread to Kairouan, Sfax and Ben Guerdane. An interior ministry spokesperson says police were forced to "shoot in self-defence" after warning shots failed to disperse scores of protesters who were setting police cars and buildings ablaze.

December 27: Police and demonstrators scuffle as 1,000 Tunisians hold a rally in Tunis, the capital, calling for jobs in a show of solidarity with those protesting in poorer regions. Demonstrations also break out in Sousse.

December 28: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the country's president, warns in a national television broadcast that protests are unacceptable and will have a negative impact on the economy. Ben Ali criticises the "use of violence in the streets by a minority of extremists" and says the law will be applied "in all firmness" to punish protesters.
The Tunisian Federation of Labour Unions holds another rally in Gafsa province, which is squashed by security forces. At the same time, about 300 lawyers hold a rally near the government's palace in Tunis in solidarity with protesters. Lawyers march in several other cities as well. The governors of Sidi Bouzid, Jendouba, and Zaghouan provinces are dismissed for unspecified reasons related to the uprising, according to the Pana news agency. The Tunisian ministers of communication, trade and handicrafts, and religious affairs are all sacked for reasons related to the uprising, the Arabiya news channel reports. Abderrahman Ayedi, a prominent Tunisian lawyer, is allegedly tortured by police after they arrest him for protesting.

December 29: Security forces peacefully break up a demonstration in the northeastern city of Monastir but allegedly use violence in the town of Sbikha. There are also reports of police brutality in the town of Chebba, where one protester is hospitalised. Nessma TV, a private news channel, becomes the first major Tunisian media outlet to cover the protests, after 12 days of demonstrations.

December 30: Chawki Belhoussine El Hadri, shot by police six days prior, dies of his injuries. France's Socialist Party, the main opposition, condemns the "brutal repression" of the protesters, calling for lawyers and demonstrators to be released.

December 31: Lawyers across Tunisia respond to a call to assemble in protest over the arrested lawyers and in solidarity with the people of Sidi Bouzid. Authorities react to the protests with force, and lawyers tell Al Jazeera they were "savagely beaten".

January 2: The hacktivist group "Anonymous" announces Operation Tunisia in solidarity with the protests by striking a number of Tunisian government websites with "direct denial of service" attacks, flooding them with traffic and temporarily shutting them down.Several online activists report on Twitter that their email and Facebook accounts were hacked.

January 3: About 250 demonstrators, mostly students, stage a peaceful march in the city of Thala. The protest turns violent after police try to stop it by firing tear gas canisters. At least nine protesters are reportedly injured. In response, protesters set fire to tyres and attack the local offices of the ruling party.

January 4: The Tunisian Bar Association announces a general strike to be staged on January 6 in protest over attacks by security forces against its members.

January 5: Mohamed Bouazizi, who launched the uprising by setting himself on fire two and a half weeks earlier, dies of self-inflicted burns. A funeral is later held for him in Sidi Bouzid, his hometown.

January 6: Reports suggest that 95 per cent of Tunisia's 8,000 lawyers launch a strike, demanding an end to police brutality against peaceful protesters.

January 7: Authorities arrest a group of bloggers, journalists, activists and a rap singer in a crackdown on dissent. Some of them reportedly go missing.

January 8: At least six protesters are reportedly killed and six others wounded in clashes with police in Tala, a provincial town near the border with Algeria. Another three people were killed in similar clashes in the Kasserine region. In Tala, witnesses said police fired their weapons after using water cannons to try to disperse a crowd which had set fire to a government building. The crowd has also thrown stones and petrol bombs at police.

January 9: Two protesters, Chihab Alibi and Youssef Fitouri, are shot dead by police in Miknassi, according to the SBZ news agency.

January 13: The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights tallies 66 deaths since the protests began, and sources tell Al Jazeera that at least 13 people were killed in the previous two days. The government's official toll stands at 23, after three and a half weeks of clashes. Later, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's president, makes a televised address, announcing unprecedented concessions and vowing not to seek re-election in 2014. He pledges to introduce more freedoms into society,institute widespread reforms and investigate the killings of protesters during demonstrations. Formerly blocked or banned websites reportedly become accessible.

January 14: Ben Ali imposes a state of emergency and fires the country's government amid violent clashes between protesters and security forces. He promises fresh legislative elections within six months in an attempt to quell mass dissent. State media reports that gatherings of more than three people have been banned and "arms will be used if orders of security forces are not heeded." That night, reports fly that the army has seized control of Tunisia's main airport and closed the country's airspace. Though members of his extended family are reportedly arrested, Ben Ali manages to leave country by plane. Mohammed Ghannouchi, the prime minister, appears on state television to announce that he is assuming the role of interim president under chapter 56 of the Tunisian constitution.

January 14: Ben Ali reportedly flies first toward Malta, then Paris, before finally turning around toward the Gulf, where he lands in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. French media report that Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, refused to allow Ben Ali to land in his country.

January 15: Saudi Arabia officially announces that it is hosting Ben Ali and his family for an unspecified period of time. The constitutional court, Tunisia's highest legal authority on constitutional issues, rules that Fouad Mebazaa, the speaker of parliament, should be interim president, not Ghannouchi. Mebazaa tasks Ghannouchi with forming a new coalition government. The power vacuum left by the departure of Ben Ali is exploited by looters and violent gangs, who ransack grocery stores and expensive manors belonging to the old regime, witnesses say. Residents in several parts of Tunis say that groups were prowling through neighbourhoods at night setting fire to buildings and attacking people and property, with no police in sight.

January 16: Tension and uncertainty grip Tunisia as military forces attempt to restore order. Imed Trabelsi, a nephew of Ben Ali's wife, reportedly dies in a military hospital in Tunis. He would have been the first person in the president's extended family to have died as a result of the uprising, but the Reuters news agency later reports on January 21 that Trabelsi has actually been arrested. Salim Shayboub, Ben Ali's son-in-law, is also reportedly arrested. Rafik Belhaj, Tunisia's former interior minister and the man many held responsible for a police crackdown on protesters, is arrested and held in his home town of Beja in the north of the country.

WikiLeaks releases a four-part series of US diplomatic cables that shows the United States knew about the extent of corruption and discontent in Tunisia and chose to support Ben Ali regardless.

January 17: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi says he regrets the fall of Ben Ali, which has left the country in "chaos with no end in sight." Tunisia's prime minister promises to announce a new coalition government, hoping to maintain the momentum of political progress to ward off fresh protests and also undercut gunmen loyal to the ousted president. Ghannouchi also announces widespread reforms, promising press freedom, the lifting of a ban on human rights groups operating in Tunisia, and the release of political prisoners. A new government is announced, but includes several Ben Ali loyalists in key posts - including the defence, interior and foreign ministers - and few opposition members in lesser positions. Exiled opposition leaders cry foul, saying they've been sidelined in the new "unity" government, which favours members of the old guard.

January 18: Unhappy with the lineup of the new government, Tunisians take to the streets in protest. Anouar Ben Gueddour, the junior minister for transportation, resigns from the newly formed cabinet, as do Houssine Dimassi, minister of training and employment, and Abdeljelil Bedoui, a minister dealing with prime ministerial affairs. They are all members of a general national labour union. Mustapha Ben Jaafar, the newly appointed health minister, says he is suspending his participation in the cabinet. Other opposition ministers threaten to quit, saying they do not want to be in a government with members of Ben Ali's former ruling party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD). Ghannouchi and Mebazaa resign from the RCD in a bid to placate protesters.

January 19: The Swiss government orders a freeze on all funds held by Ben Ali in Switzerland, Micheline Calmy-Rey, the country's foreign minister said. At the same time, prosecutors in Tunisia open an inquiry into the assets of Ben Ali and his extended family, the official TAP news agency reported. Speaking to Al Jazeera in his first public remarks since the uprising, Gordon Gray, the US ambassador to Tunisia, calls the movement a "work in progress" and a "new phenomenon." The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the United Nations plans to send a team of human rights officials to Tunisia to look into weeks of violence and advise the new coalition government.

January 20: All ministers in the interim government quit Ben Ali's RCD party but remain in their cabinet posts. The central committee of RCD is dissolved, as many of the ministers were also committee members.

January 21: The first of a three-day period of national mourning sees protesters gather peacefully throughout the day in Tunis. They demand the dissolution of the new government as they honour those who who died in the unrest of previous weeks. In an effort to dampen the anger, Ghannouchi pledges to quit politics after legislative and presidential elections that he says will be held as soon as possible.

January 22: Thousands of protesters take to the streets yet again, continuing to ask for the removal of all RCD members from the interim government. Around 2,000 police officers join the civilian protesters, calling for better working conditions and a new union and complaining about their association with Ben Ali's repressive regime. Protesters break through barricades at the prime minister's office, but no violence is reported. The army and the justice department are ordered to preserve any documents and evidence that can be gathered so the old government can be implicated throughout the investigation. Rachid al-Ghannouchi, the leader of the formerly banned Islamist al-Nahda (Reinaissance) party and no relation to the prime minister, is still not allowed to return to Tunisia until a 1991 prison sentence is lifted.

January 23: As the third and final day of national mourning begins, protesters are again expected to take to the streets, after former RCD government ministers showed no signs of resigning. Hundreds of Tunisians defy a nighttime curfew and travel hundreds of kilometres in what they call a "Liberation caravan" to join protesters in the country's capital, where anger at the interim government continues to grow. The country's state news agency reports that allies of Ben Ali - Abdelaziz bin Dhia, Ben Ali's spokesman and chief adviser, and Abdallah Qallal, a former interior minister and head of Tunisia's appointed upper parliamentary house - have been placed under house arrest. The agency also reports that police are searching for Abdelwahhab Abdalla, Ben Ali's political adviser, who has disappeared and that Larbi Nasra, the owner of Hannibal TV and his son have been arrested on suspicion of "treason" for working on Ben Ali's return from Saudi Arabia (where the deposed president currently is currently in exile). Nasra, the agency reports, is related to Ben Ali's wife, Leila, and is accused of "using the channel to ... create a constitutional vacuum, ruin stability and take the country into a vortex of violence that will bring back the dictatorship of the former president."

January 24: Politicians are negotiating the creation of a council to oversee the interim government. Its task would be to protect the "Jasmine" revolution that toppled Ben Ali.

January 26: Clashes break out near government offices in the old city, or casbah, where riot police fire teargas at hundreds of demonstrators. The Tunisian General Labour Union holds a general strike in Sfax, Tunisia's second city and economic centre, and thousands demand that the government resign. Tunisia has asked Interpol to help arrest ousted president Ben Ali and his family so they can be tried for theft and currency offences, the nation's interim justice minister said.

January 27: Tunisia's foreign minister, Kamel Morjane, announces his resignation. The prime minister later announces a reshuffle of the cabinet, dropping key ministers from the criticised government of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

February – 2011 – 1,000 thugs, paid by the former ruling RCD party, ransack Kasserine, sparking demonstrations that spread.

Crisis Spreads to Egypt

Day 1 – Tuesday, Jan. 25:
– Protests begin in Egypt on the day Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to Congress. He does not mention Egypt but does refer to protests in Tunisia and says the United States "supports the democratic aspirations of all people". Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, gives the first high-level US response, saying, "Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people."

Day 2 – Wednesday, Jan. 26:
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, is asked whether the United States still backs Hosni Mubarak. His response: "Egypt is a strong ally."

Day 3 – Thursday, Jan. 27:
As protests spread, Joe Biden, the vice president, calls Mr Mubarak an ally on Middle East peace efforts and says: "I would not refer to him as a dictator." Mr Obama, in a YouTube interview, says reform "is absolutely critical for the long-term wellbeing of Egypt."

Day 4 – Friday, Jan. 28:
The White House says the United States will review $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt. Mr Obama speaks with Mr Mubarak after the Egyptian president, in a televised statement, calls for a national dialogue to avoid chaos. Mr Obama says he urged Mubarak to undertake sweeping reforms "to meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people."

Day 5 – Saturday, Jan. 29:
After Mr Mubarak sacks his government and makes Suleiman vice president, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley tweets that the Egyptian leader "can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat."

Day 6 – Sunday, Jan. 30:
Mrs Clinton, on television talk shows, dodges questions about whether Mr Mubarak should resign but brings the term "orderly transition" into the official US message for the first time. "We want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void, that there not be a void, that there be a well thought out plan that will bring about a democratic participatory government," she tells "Fox News Sunday."

Day 7 – Monday, Jan. 31:
Publicly, the White House continues to call for democratic reforms but will not be drawn on Mr Mubarak's fate. Mr Gibbs says: "We're not picking between those on the street and those in the government."

Day 8 – Tuesday, Feb. 1:
The State Department orders the departure from Egypt of non-essential US government personnel and their families. Mr Obama says he spoke with Mubarak after the Egyptian leader pledged in a television address not to seek re-election. He says he told Mubarak that "an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now."

Day 9 – Wednesday, Feb. 2:
US officials are vague when pressed on whether Mr Obama's call for an immediate transition of power means the United States wants Mr Mubarak to step down before September elections.

Day 10 – Thursday, Feb. 3:
Mrs Clinton calls on the Egyptian government and opposition "to begin immediately serious negotiations on a peaceful and orderly transition".

Day 11 – Friday, Feb. 4:
The White House calls for "concrete steps" toward an orderly transition but again stops short of demanding Mr Mubarak's immediate resignation.

Day 12 – Saturday, Feb. 5:
Mrs Clinton says the United States backs a transition process led by Omar Suleiman, and that it must be given time to mature. She warns that radical elements may try to derail the process. Mr Obama's envoy in the crisis, Frank Wisner, says it is critical that Mubarak stays in power for the time being to manage the transition. The State Department and White House quickly disavow his comments, saying Mr Wisner spoke in a private capacity.

Day 13 – Sunday, Feb. 6:
Mr Obama says Egypt "is not going to go back to what it was" and tells Fox News he is confident an orderly transition will produce a government that will remain a US partner.

Day 14 – Monday, Feb. 7:
Mr Gibbs says: "The United States doesn't pick leaders of other countries."

Day 15 – Tuesday, Feb. 8:
Mr Biden speaks with Mr Suleiman, stressing US support "for an orderly transition in Egypt that is prompt, meaningful, peaceful, and legitimate." Robert Gates, the defence secretary, says Egypt's military has behaved in "an exemplary fashion" by standing largely on the sidelines during the demonstrations.

Day 16 – Wednesday, Feb. 9:
After appearing to throw its support behind a transition process led by Mr Mubarak's new vice president, Mr Suleiman, Washington shows growing irritation, saying it has still not seen "real, concrete" reforms. The White House steps up pressure on Mr Suleiman after coming under fire for not calling on Mr Mubarak to step down immediately.

Day 17 – Thursday, Feb. 10:
Mr Obama says Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's statement that he will not hand over power to his vice president is not enough to meet the demands of protesters clamouring for democratic change. Amid widespread reports that Mr Mubarak was likely to step down, US officials said earlier Mr Obama was closely following the "fluid situation" in Egypt while on a trip to Michigan. Leon Panetta, the CIA director, tells a congressional hearing on Thursday that the situation in Egypt is fluid and will depend on whether Egyptian leaders and the opposition are making the "right decisions at the right moments.
"There's a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening, which would be significant in terms of where the, hopefully, orderly transition in Egypt takes place," he said.

Day 18 – Friday, Feb. 11: Protesters angry at Mubarak’s decision to stay in power until September surround State TV and media building and Presidential Palace. Mubarak and family flee Cairo to seaside resort home at Sharm.

Update at 6:14 am. ET: Protesters at Cairo's Tahrir Square have finished Friday prayers, but it is unclear whether they will continue their demonstration there or march to other locations.

6:18 am. ET: In Cairo, thousands of demonstrators are blocking access to the building housing state TV, Al-Jazeera reports, keeping some employees and guests from reaching the station. Al-Arabiya TV quotes witnesses in the Egyptian city of Suez as saying protesters there have seized control of some governmental buildings.
Update at 6:38 am. ET: Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate, says in a statement on Twitter that the "entire nation is on the streets." "Only way out is for regime to go," he tweets. "People power can't be crushed. We shall prevail. Still hope army can join"

8 am. ET: Al Jazeera TV reports that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is preparing to issue its third statement in two days regarding the transfer of power.

8 am. ET:Egypt's military is supporting President Mubarak's plans for a transfer of power, but is not preventing hundreds of thousands of protesters to demonstrate in Tahrir Square in Cairo and to gather outside both the presidential palace and the building housing Egypt state TV, the Associated Press reports.

8:23 am. ET: President Mubarak and his family have left Cairo and are now in his Red Sea residence in Sharm el-Sheikh, CBS News, NBC and Al-Arabiya TV report.

8:39 am. ET: Denmark's prime minister has become the first European Union leader to publicly urge President Hosni Mubarak to step down. "Mubarak is history, Mubarak must step down," Lars Loekke Rasmussen said Friday in Copenhagen, the Associated Presss reports.

9:14 am. ET: The Associated Press quotes a local official in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh as confirming that President Mubarak is there.

9:36 am. ET: Egypt state tv says to expect a statement shortly from the presidential palace, Reuters reports. V.

9:51 am. ET: Al-Jazeera reports that two helicopters have arrived at the presidential palace ahead of a statement by the presidency. Tens of thousands of protesters have surrounded the building in a peaceful demonstration.

10:04 am. ET: Crowds move in large numbers from Tahrir Square in Cairo to the presidential palace ahead of an "urgent and important" statement from the presidency. Thousands of other have gathered outside Egypt state TV.

10:08 am. ET: Reuters, quoting witnesses, reports 1,000 protesters in the north Sinai town of El-Arish have exchanged gunfire and tossed firebombs at a police station

10:16 a.m. ET:Al-Jazeera TV reports that one person has died and 20 injured when a police station in north Sinai town of El-Arish came under small arms fire during protests.

10:42 a.m. ET: Reuters quotes a U.S. official as describing Mubarak's departure from Cairo as a "positive first step."

11:03 a.m. ET: Hossam Badrawi, who was recently appointed general secretary of the NDP, resigns saying Egypt needs new parties, Al-Jazeera reports.

11:05 a.m. ET: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has resigne.d Vice President Omar Suleiman said in a brief televised statement. His statement in full: "Hosni Mubarak has waived the office of presidency and told the army to run the affairs of the country. "

11:08 a.m. ET: Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators erupted in jubilation in Tahrir Square as vice president Omar Suleiman announces that President Mubarak has resigned and called on the army to "run the affairs of the country."

11:15 a.m. ET: Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, reacting to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, says: "This is the greatest day of my life. The country has been liberated."

11:22 a.m. ET MSNBC reports that President Obama was notified of Mubarak's resignation during an Oval Office meeting. He then watched the TV coverage for several minutes in an outer office.

11:27 a.m. ET: Al-Jazeera correspondent Sherine Tadros, reporting from Tahrir Square, reports that a number of demonstrators have fainted amid the jubilation and been helped out of the area.

11:32 a.m. ET: Our colleagues at The Oval report that President Obama will make a statement on the Egyptian developments at 1:30 p.m. ET.

11:34 a.m. ET: Here is the full statement that a grim-looking Vice President Omar Suleiman delivered on Egypt state TV announcing President Mubarak's resignation:
In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic. He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor.


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