Before Tunisia’s interim prime minister met with President Barack Obama on Friday he said the government finally has been able to reel in the problems with extremism and the transition over to democracy has been put back on track.
Now, said Mehdi Jomaa, the country’s faltering economy needed to be fixed. While in Washington, Jomaa talked about North African security but also how the U.S. could support Tunisia’s troubled finances. It is there that the Arab spring pro democracy protests first started in the region in 2011.
Jomaa said the security inside the country is under control currently as the government now knows how to confront extremists and is prepared to prevent any new attacks.
Jomaa is a trained engineer and appointed last December to set up a Cabinet consisting of technocrats. The country now is looking ahead to elections before the end of 2014, after a transition to democracy has experienced terrorist attacks, widespread unrest socially and political assassinations.
In 2011, the initial promise of the revolutions that were pro-democracy has faded in most countries, with a coup in Egypt by the military, a Syrian civil war and chaos fueled by the military in Libya.
Tunisia alone is managing the transition characterized by an agreement amongst political factions but it has not been an easy one. The increase in radical Islamists with ties to al-Qaeda and armed that spill over the borders with Libya have challenged the government.
In 2013, extremists shot two politicians from the opposition in sight of their families, plunging Tunisia into a crisis and stopping the efforts to finish a new constitution.
At the same time, soldiers clashed with militant in hideouts on the border with Algeria that ended in many deaths.
Jomaa said the threats have been mastered by the military after initial setbacks. In February, seven members of a radical group were killed while another six were apprehended.
Jomaa would not deny or confirm reports last December that Seifallah Ben Hassine the leader of the radical group was arrested in Libya.
The prime minister said his talks in the U.S. included requests for more advanced equipment to help fight against terrorism.