Economy dominates in-tray of new Tunisia president

TUNIS, The newly elected president of Tunisia faces deep-seated economic problems as he takes power in the country that blazed the trail in the Arab Spring.

While much of the election campaign revolved around questions of security and political freedoms, economic issues are likely to feature heavily in the policy in-tray of Beji Caid Essebsi, who won Sunday’s elections in the North African country of 11 million.

Economic factors were largely behind Tunisia’s revolution in 2010 that saw the overthrown of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and set in motion a series of uprisings across the Arab world.

Four years on, the economic concerns that stoked the revolutionary fervor remain to be addressed. Unemployment in Tunisia stands at nearly 15 percent — it’s double that for the young and women.

Here are some of the economic issues that Essebsi has to deal with:

REGIONAL IMBALANCEA key problem in Tunisia is the imbalance between the Mediterranean coast and the interior.Poverty rates provide a clear indicator of the divide. In the north-west and center-west regions — where the revolution began — poverty rates stand at 26 and 32 percent respectively, according to the World Bank, compared to just 8 percent in the […]

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