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Tunisians Proud of Painless Coup Smooth Transfer of Power to Ben Ali Brings Relief, Praise
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Author: Meisler, Stanley
Date: Nov 9, 1987
Start Page: 5
Section: 1; Foreign Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

Many opponents of [Habib Bourguiba] have accepted the pledge of [Ben Ali] even though he served as Bourguiba's minister of interior during some of the regime's most repressive periods. Even the extreme fundamentalists known as the Movement of the Islamic Tendency have issued a statement from Paris hailing the takeover as a historic and positive step.

At first, the fundamentalists attacked Ben Ali. But Chamari, who is secretary general of the Tunisian League of Human Rights, said the fundamentalists changed their minds after he explained to their leaders that Bourguiba's oppression of their organization had precipitated his downfall.

Bourguiba, according to Chamari and other sources in Tunis, was furious over the outcome of the September trial of a number of fundamentalists on charges of terrorism and subversion. The court ordered the execution of two defendants and condemned five others to death in absentia. Although the sentences shocked some observers, Bourguiba thought them too lenient.

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