By Ellen Laipson and Oussama Romdhani:
When the Prime Minister of Tunisia, Mehdi Jomaa, visits Washington on Wednesday, it will be a welcome respite from the relentless bad news coming from the Arab world. Tunisia, where the Arab “spring” began in late 2010, is farther along the process of democratic transformation than the other countries where the demand for change was equally compelling — Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria. The U.S. government is right to acknowledge the notable milestones achieved by Tunisia toward completion of this transition. Sustaining Tunisia’s successes will require continued commitment to inclusiveness among the political parties, and more financial and political support from the U.S., Europe and Tunisia’s neighbors.
Jomaa’s appointment has been the source of measured optimism in Tunisia, following the remarkable decision in January 2014 by the Al-Nahda Party to relinquish power in the face of public disapproval, and accept an interim technocratic government. The transfer of power to Jomaa palpably eased the polarization between the secular and Islamist camps, and put the country on the track towards power-sharing and reconciliation. It also brought to power a non-partisan government that can focus on meeting the twin challenges of terrorism and economic recession.
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