Skip to main content

Chronology 2010-11

Image removed.

The Arab Spring was launched in Sidi Bouzid, a remote Tunisian town. On Dec. 17, 2010, Mohammed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old street vendor who supported a family of eight by selling fruit from a cart, set himself on fire in front of the provincial governor’s office in response to confiscation of his cart and harassment by municipal officials. Bouazizi’s action sparked the first Arab protests in Sidi Bouzid. But unrest spread quickly across the country. Police reportedly killed 300 protesters between December and early January. President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali’s pledges of reforms did little to quiet the discontent.

On January 14, Ben Ali fled with his family to Saudi Arabia, leaving Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi in charge. From January to October 2011, the interim government moved towards reform, recognized new political parties and disbanded Ben Ali’s party. But protests demanding further reform continued sporadically. On October 23, Ennahda, a moderate Islamist party, won the national elections and formed a coalition with two secular parties.

Dec. 17, 2010: Street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest government abuse and corruption, igniting growing protests throughout the month.

Dec. 17, 2010 – Jan 13, 2011: Protests escalated, spreading nationwide. Police killed hundreds in confrontations.

Dec. 23: From Sidi Bouzid, Development Minister Mohamed Nouri Jouini announced a $10 million job creation program.

Dec. 28: In a televised address, President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali promised job creation but warns that protesters will be punished. He fired the communications, trade, and handicrafts ministers and the governors of rebellious provinces, including Sidi Bouzid.

Dec. 29: After 12 days of demonstrations, Nessma TV, a private channel, became the first major Tunisian media outlet to cover the protests.

Jan. 13: President Ben Ali promised not to run for office again in 2014, to allow press freedom and to cut the price of basic commodities. He also vows that legislative elections will take place in six months. But he imposes a state of emergency, which prohibits groups larger than three from congregating. In a countermove suggesting the military is abandoning Ben Ali, Gen. Rachid Ammar orders the army not to shoot at protesters and to protect them from police.

Jan. 14: President Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi took over an interim government.

Jan. 17: A caretaker government was formed until elections can be held. The next day, four opposition members quit the interim government, and the president and prime minister quit the long-ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD).

Jan 19 – 26: In central Tunis, hundreds of protesters, organized by the trade union movement, called for the dismissal of ministers affiliated with Ben Ali.

Jan. 21: The RCD dissolved its leadership committee, approves an amnesty law for political prisoners, and promises to recognize all formerly banned political parties.

Jan. 23: The interim government shut down the oldest and most popular private television network.

Jan. 26: The government issued an arrest warrant for the Ben Ali family, announced a $350 million public spending program, and postponed naming a new cabinet.

Jan. 27: The interim government appointed 12 new ministers and dismissed former RCD members except for Prime Minister Ghannouchi.

Jan. 30: Rachid Ghannouchi, founder of Ennadha, the main Islamic party, returned from two decades in exile, primarily in London.

Feb. 3: The interim government replaced every regional governor.

Feb. 7-March 9: New Interior Minister Farhat Rajhi ordered the RCD to shut down its activities. It was formally disbanded on March 9. The interim government voted to allow interim President Fouad Mebazza to rule by decree. It also called in the army reserves to provide more security after widespread police desertion.

Feb. 13: Italy announced it will send its army to help stabilize Tunisia after thousands of Tunisians flee to Italy.

Feb. 15: The Interior Ministry extended the state of emergency but ended the curfew imposed by Ben Ali in January.

Feb. 27: Prime Minister Ghannouchi resigned and set elections for July 15. Interim President Fouad Mebazaa replaced him with former minister Beji Caid-Essebsi.

March 7: The interim government appointed a new cabinet and disbanded the state spy agency.

March 22: After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit, the U.S. promised $20 million in aid.

April 1: The Justice Ministry announced 18 legal cases against Ben Ali, which included charges of voluntary manslaughter and drug trafficking.

April 26: Prime Minister Essebsi banned senior RCD members from contesting elections.

May – July: Every Sunday, people protested nationwide for further reforms.

May 26: Election officials recommended that elections be delayed until October 23 to allow more preparation and voter registration.

May 27: The Group of 8 industrialized nations pledged billions in aid to Tunisia, with more promised if democratic reforms continue.

June 20: Ben Ali and his wife Leila are convicted in absentia of theft. Both are sentenced to 35 years in jail and fined $66 million.

June 24: The interim cabinet adopted laws allowing lawyers to organize and banks to check the records of amnesty beneficiaries. The laws also create a committee to manage frozen assets for the state.

July 11: A voter registration campaign began.

July 14: The World Bank approved a $50 million loan for Tunisia to support small businesses.

July 15 – 17: Protesters and police clashed in Tunis and various other cities.

July 27: President Mebazza extended emergency law until Aug 1.

Aug. 23: The EU announced $160 million to aid Tunisia’s economy.

Sept. 6: Security forces were banned from joining unions, prompting hundreds of police to protest.

Sept. 14: Ennahda published its election platform, promising a moderate Islamist agenda.

Oct. 9: Protesters attacked a TV station for showing Persepolis, which features scenes representing God talking to a young girl. They also protested at the main university against a ban on women wearing the full black niqab, which shows only the eyes. Dozens were arrested.

Oct. 14 – 16: In Tunis, thousands protested the Persepolis screening, and thousands responded with calls for press freedom.

Oct. 23: In parliamentary elections, Ennahda won 89 of 217 national assembly seats, with over 90 percent turnout in some areas. Among 49 women elected, 42 are from Ennahda. The party formed a coalition with two non-religious parties, Ettakatol and the Congress for the Republican Party.

Oct. 27 – 28: Protests erupted in Sidi Bouzid after elections officials canceled several seats won by Al Aridha, a political party founded in the town. The government imposed a curfew on Sidi Bouzid.

Nov. 15: Ennahda Secretary General Hamadi Jebali referred to the new government as the sixth Muslim caliphate, leading the Ettakatol Party to suspend its participation in the new governing coalition. It later returned after being promised powerful government positions.

Nov. 18: Jebali was chosen as the coalition prime minister. Moncef Marzouki of the Congress for the Republic Party was nominated for president. And Ettakatol’s Mustafa Ben Jaafar was named speaker of the National Assembly. They were sworn in Dec. 13.

Nov. 22: The new National Assembly held its first meeting.

Nov 28: Interim President Mebazaa extended the state of emergency until December 2012.

Nov. 28 – Jan 24: Islamist students occupied Manouba University for four days to demand that male and female students be separated, triggering strikes at state universities and protests outside parliament. The Islamists, demanding that women be allowed to wear face veils at school, continued a month-long sit-in that prevented classes and exams from taking place.

Dec. 14: President Marzouki asked for a six-month political truce and a moratorium on strikes and protests, promising to resign if reforms are unsuccessful.


2012 was a tumultuous year that tested Tunisia’s fragile democracy. The new government attempted to control protests and violence throughout the country as thousands rallied for and against a more conservative religious government. Tunisia was deeply divided over the new order, as the elected assembly worked on a new constitution and triggered debates on the role of Islam. In June 2012, former Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi formed the secular Nidaa Tounes party to challenge Ennahda.

Jan. 14: Thousands marched to commemorate the one-year anniversary of their protest movement.

March 2 – April 25: Protesters conducted a sit-in outside Wataniya, the state television network, protesting corruption and calling for publishers of pro-Ben Ali propaganda to be fired.

March 20: On the 56th anniversary of Tunisia’s independence from France, thousands marched in Tunis to call for a civil state.

March 24: At a conference attended by 60 political parties, Former Prime Minister Essebsi criticized Ennahda and called for a viable alternative.

March 25: Thousands protested in Tunis for the creation of an Islamic state.

March 26: The Ennahda Party announced that Sharia law will not be codified in the new constitution.

April 9: Defying a government ban on protests, thousands rallied on Avenue Bourguiba in Tunis. Police used tear gas and batons. Two days later, the government lifted the protest ban.

May 1: In the first ruling on the death of a protester, two Tunisian policemen were sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing a youth during the January 2011 protests.

May 5: The government extended the state of emergency until the end of July 2012.

May 11: The government licensed a Salafist political party for the first time in the country’s history.

May 20: Thousands rallied in Kairouan in support of Ansar al Sharia, a hardline Islamist group.

May 18 – 27: Salafists in Sidi Bouzid and other towns burned alcohol warehouses and police stations. They threatened the owners of alcohol stores with violence if they didn’t shut down.

May 29: Judges began an indefinite strike to protest the firing of dozens of magistrates by the state on suspicion of corruption and ties to Ben Ali’s regime.

June 12 – 15: In Tunis, Salafists rioted, protesting an art exhibit that they claim was offensive. One man was killed, 62 policemen were injured, and 160 protesters were arrested. A curfew was imposed.

June 16: Former interim Prime Minister Essebsi launched a secularist party to prepare for elections in early 2013.

June 24: Prime Minister Jebali extradited Muammar Qaddafi’s former prime minister, causing a political split with President Marzouki. Opposition parties later walked out of the assembly to protest the extradition.

June 27: President Marzouki fired the Central Bank governor because his monetary policies conflicted with the government’s economic program.

July 16: Ennahda reelected Rachid Ghannouchi, a moderate, as its leader.

July 27: Finance Minister Hussein Dimassi resigned over differences with Ennahda.

Aug. 1: Ennahda filed a bill to criminalize offences against "sacred values."

Aug. 9: In Sidi Bouzid, 800 people protested, calling for Ennahda’s resignation.

Aug. 13: In Tunis, thousands protested against a constitutional article that would lower women’s status.

Aug. 14: The head of the constitutional drafting committee postponed the final phase of the constitution—originally expected in October—until February 2013.

Aug. 22: Hundreds of suspected Salafist militants launched an overnight attack in Sidi Bouzid, triggering clashes with local residents.

Sept. 7: Thousands of supporters of the Ekbes political movement, which means “get a move on,” marched in Tunis. They called for purging the media and political sphere of former regime remnants and “counter-revolutionaries.”

Sept. 12-14: Tunisians protested an anti-Islam film in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tunis. On Sept. 14, Salafis stormed the compound, burned the American flag and started fires before Tunisian security forces dispersed the crowd.

Sept. 21 and 27: Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi vowed to crackdown on Salafis.  The following week President Marzouki pledged to do the same.

Nov. 29: Hundreds of people protested in Siliana, demanding better economic opportunities. President Marzouki responded by calling for a new cabinet.


Tensions mounted in 2013 when two prominent secular politicians – Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi – were assassinated, sparking large-scale protests. Although authorities arrested militants linked to al Qaeda, protesters blamed Ennahda for the attacks. Thousands of Ennahda supporters staged protests in response. To ease the political crisis, Ennahda handed over power to an interim government in October 2013, which was tasked with organizing new elections.

Feb. 7-20: Protests erupted after leftist opposition leader Chokri Belaid was assassinated. Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali promised to restructure the Islamist-dominated government. But he later resigned, blaming Islamists for the political crisis.

Feb. 25: Thousands protested the appointment of Ali Larayedh, an Ennahda hardliner, as the new prime minister.

March 11: Larayedh formed a new cabinet, handing over key posts to political independents in an effort to reduce tensions.

March 28: The leader of Ansar al Sharia – an Islamist extremist group – threatened to overthrow Tunisia’s government.

April 18: Secular politicians submitted a motion of no-confidence against President Marzouki after he criticized “secular extremists.”

July 25-26: Secular politician Mohamed Brahmi was assassinated, sparking large-scale protests.

Oct. 5: Ennahda agreed to hand over power to a caretaker government led by independents. Mehdi Jomaa was later named prime minister of the interim government.


In 2014, secular parties edged out Islamists at the polls. In the October parliamentary elections, Nidaa Tounes won 85 seats compared to 69 for Ennahda. Essebsi, the head of Nidaa Tounes, was elected president in December.

Jan. 27: Parliament passed a new constitution, the first since Ben Ali was ousted in 2011.

March 6: President Marzouki lifted the state of emergency that had been in effect since the 2011 uprising.

June 13: Tunisian police clashed with Ansar al Sharia near the Algerian border. 

July 4: Ennahda rejected Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s announcement of an Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

July 17: Al Qaeda-linked militants attacked a military checkpoint near Chaambi Mountain, killing and injuring dozens of Tunisian soldiers.

July 20-Aug. 22: The government closed mosques and radio stations affiliated with hardline Islamists, in response to the July 17 attack.

Oct. 15: Tunisian security forces arrested Islamist militants planning to attack Tunis shortly before the parliamentary elections.

Oct. 26: Tunisia held parliamentary elections. The secular Nidaa Tounes party won 85 seats, enough to name a prime minister and lead a coalition government. Ennahda won 69 seats.

Nov. 23: Tunisia held presidential elections. Beji Caid Essebsi of Nidaa Tounes won 39 percent of the vote, and Marzouki won 33 percent. A run-off was scheduled for December.

Dec. 21: Essebsi won the presidential elections in a run-off, securing 55.7 percent of the vote.


In 2015, Tunisia struggled to maintain security amid attacks by Islamist militants.In March, gunmen stormed the National Bardo Museum and killed 24 people, including 20 foreigners. In June, a gunman killed 39 foreigners at a beach resort in Sousse. As a result, the government announced a series of security measures and declared a nation-wide state of emergency.   

Jan. 27: Habib Essid, a former official under Ben Ali, was appointed Prime Minister.

Feb.6: Parliament approved Essid’s cabinet, which included members of  Nidaa Tounes, Ennahda and other smaller parties.

March 18: Militants attacked the Bardo Museum in Tunis, killing 19 people.

March 24: Essid dismissed six police commanders, including the capital’s police chief, after the National Bardo Museum shooting.

March 30: Security forces reportedly kill Khaled Chayeb - the commander of the group responsible for the Bardo attacks.

May 21: President Barack Obama met President Beji Caid Essebsi and designated Tunisia a major non-NATO ally.

June 26: A gunman killed 39 tourists at a Tunisian beach resort of Sousse.

July 6: President Essebsi declared a state of emergency in response to the Sousse attack.

Aug.19: President Beji Caid Essebsi signed a new anti-terrorism bill into law

Nov. 24: ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a presidential guard bus that killed 12 people.


2016 was marred by political upheaval. Nidaa Tounes, the ruling party in parliament, splintered and Ennahda founder Rachid Ghannouchi declared the party was “leaving” political Islam. In July, Tunisia lawmakers voted to dismiss Prime Minister Habib Esside from office during a no-confidence ballot in parliament. A month later, Nidaa Tounes member Youssef Chahed became the prime minister.

Jan. 11: Ennahda became the largest party in parliament following resignations in the ruling Nidaa Tounes party.

Feb. 28: Tunisian security forces killed four Islamist militants during clashes along the Algerian border.

March 1: Tunisia’s defense minister said the government backs a plan to host German troops that will train the Libyan army for the fight against ISIS.

March 2: Tunisian authorities said security forces killed five Islamist militants in a raid near Ben Guerdan after they had crossed over from Libya.

March 7: Around 50 ISIS militants attacked Ben Guerdane near the Libyan border, attempting to overwhelm security forces. Clashes over the next few days killed 40 ISIS militants, 13 security personnel, and seven civilians.

March 8: Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said ISIS militants attacked Ben Guerdan in an attempt to control the town and expand their territory from Libya into Tunisia.

March 9: The Tunisia military killed 10 Islamist militants in a raid near the Libyan border in the town of Ben Guerdan after the previous attack on army and police posts.

March 10: The Tunisian military killed three militants in an operation to clear them from the Libyan border town, Ben Guerdan, following the Monday attack on army and police posts.

March 17: France called on Tunisia’s youth to resist the path of Islamic extremism and set the example for the rest of the region.

March 21: Tunisian counter-terrorism unit forces broke up an ISIS recruiting cell that planned to send people into Libya to join the ISIS affiliate there.

Algerian troops killed six Islamist militants along southeast Tunisian border.

May 11: Police carried out raids in Ettadamen, a suburb of Tunis, and the southern town of Tataouine. Tunisian authorities said four Tunisian police were killed when a suspected Islamist militant detonated a suicide-bomb belt during a raid in the southern town of Tataouine. Four militants were killed in the raids.

May 12: The U.S. gave jeeps, communications technology and a small aircraft to Tunisia in order to help protect its border with Libya, where the Islamic State holds territory and set up training camps.

May 19: Ghannouchi announced that Ennahda is distancing itself from political Islam. In an interview with Le Monde, he said that “We are Muslim democrats who no longer claim political Islam.” Ghannouchi said that the shift reflects Tunisia’s successful democratic transition, but he also cited the need to distinguish the party from extremist groups.

Tunisian special forces said they have killed a senior commander of an ISIS affiliate during clashes in a central, mountainous region of Tunisia.

May 30: A landmine planted by jihadist groups in the mountainous region near the Algerian border killed two Tunisian civilians.

July 15: A police source identified 31 year-old Franco-Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel as the truck driver who carried out an attack on a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France on Thursday, July 14. The attack killed 84 and wounded 202 others. Tunisian security sources said Bouhlel was from the town of Msaken and last visited it four years ago.

July 20: The government announced that it dismantled an ISIS cell that had planned attacks in Sousse.

July 30: Tunisia lawmakers voted to dismiss Prime Minister Habib Esside from office during a no-confidence ballot in parliament.  

Aug. 3: President Essebsi named Youssef Chahed, a member of Nidaa Tounes, new prime minister.

Aug. 29: Islamist militants killed three Tunisian soldiers and wounded seven in an ambush on their patrol near the Algerian border.

Aug. 31: Tunisian police killed two Islamist militants and seized arms, as well as an explosive belt for suicide attacks, during a dawn raid in a central Tunisian province.

Sept. 6: Tunisia’s Defense Minister said North African countries should cooperate more to stop Islamic State fighters fleeing Libya from returning to their homelands and causing trouble there.

Sept. 19: French authorities detained and arrested eight suspects of French and Tunisian nationality in relation to the Nice truck attack that occurred July 14.

Oct. 15: Britain’s defense minister said that his country has sent 40 military personnel to Tunisia to provide training to help prevent the spread of ISIS fighters from Libya.

Oct. 25: Tunisian police arrested two American citizens for suspected terrorist activities after finding videos and pictures praising ISIS.  

Oct. 26: The U.S. said it has begun using a Tunisian air base to conduct surveillance drone operations on ISIS militants in Libya.

Nov. 4: Tunisia’s prime minister fired the religious affairs minister after he accused Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi brand of Islam of being behind “terrorism and extremism”.

Nov. 12: Tunisian forces seized three large arms caches that contained Kalashnikov rifles, rockets, and landmines near the border with Libya.

Mid. November: Tunisian authorities dismantled a jihadist cell planning attack against a security station and a commercial center in the capital of Tunis.

Nov. 22: Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said U.S. surveillance drones are flying over the Tunisian-Libyan border to monitor and warn of attacks by ISIS.

Dec. 2: Tunisia’s Interior Ministry announced that security forces have dismantled 160 jihadist cells in the first 10 months of 2016. This was approximately 45 percent more than during the whole of 2015.

Dec. 15: Mohamed Zaouari, member of Hamas and its drone program supervisor, was assassinated outside his house near Sfax.

Dec. 19: Tunisia said initial evidence showed a foreign organization may have been behind the assassination of a Tunisian national who Hamas claimed was one of its drone experts.

Dec. 21: German officials said they found fingerprints from a Tunisian suspect inside the truck used in an attack on a Berlin Christmas market on Monday, Dec. 19 that killed 12. The suspect was 24 year old Tunisian Anis Amri. A hunt for him was underway in Europe.

Dec. 23: Italian police shot and killed Tunisian Anis Amri, the primary suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack that occurred last week.

Tunisian authorities arrested three men “linked to the perpetrator of the terrorist attack” that occurred at a Berlin Christmas market on Dec. 19. The men were described as being members of a “cell” that had been in contact with Tunisian citizen and primary suspect Anis Amri.

Sudan extradited a Tunisian suspect who was believed to be involved in the 2015 attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis.

Dec. 28: German authorities detained a Tunisian man with suspected involvement in the truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market.

Dec. 29: German authorities released a Tunisian man that had been detained a day earlier as a possible accomplice in the truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market.

Tunisian security forces said they broke up an al Qaeda-linked cell of 10 members that was active near the coastal city of Sousse.

Dec. 30: Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said returning Tunisian militants will be arrested immediately and tried under anti-terrorism laws. 


2017 was an especially challenging year for Tunisia’s economy. The national unity government struggled to implement key reforms. Public spending increased even though economic growth was “anemic,” according to the World Bank. High unemployment, a rising inflation rate, and tax increases plagued Tunisians.

Jan. 4: German authorities arrested a Tunisian man who dined with the Berlin Christmas market attack suspect, Anis Amri, the night before the attack.

Feb. 1: Germany arrested a Tunisian asylum-seeker on suspicion of planning an Islamist attack in Germany. The asylum-seeker was also wanted in Tunisia over involvement in a deadly attack on a Tunis museum in 2015. He was suspected of recruiting for the Islamic State in Germany since August 2015 and building up a network of supporters with the aim of carrying out a terrorist attack.

Feb. 9: A U.N. human rights expert urged Tunisian authorities to expedite judicial processing of more than 1,500 people accused of terrorist acts, saying nearly all are being held in provisional detention without any conviction.

Feb. 13: Amnesty International said Tunisian security forces were using methods of torture, arbitrary arrests, and detentions in their war against Islamist militants.

Feb. 16: Tunisia extended the 2015 state of emergency for another three months. The state of emergency had been in place since the Islamic State bombing in Tunis in November 2015, which killed 12 presidential guards. 

March 12: Islamist militants attacked a security checkpoint in southwest Tunisia, killing one policeman and injuring three others. Two militants were also killed in the attack.

April 30: Tunisian security forces shot and killed a senior Islamist commander during a raid against militants who were planning attacks for Ramadan.

May 26: The trial began for 26 people accused of involvement in the 2015 militant attack at a beach resort in Sousse, which left 38 people dead.

June 3: Islamist militants kidnapped and beheaded a shepherd in the mountains near the Algerian border. The shepherds brother was killed the same way two years before. 

Aug. 9: Armed forces killed two Islamist militants, including a senior commander, in a mountain raid near the Algerian border. The commander was identified as Mourad Chaieb, the Algerian leader of Okba Bin Naffa, which is closely aligned with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. 

Sept. 6: Prime Minister Youssef Chahed named Ennahda party member Taoufik Rajhi to the new position of economic reforms minister in a cabinet reshuffle. 

Oct. 2: The main suspect in a French knife attack had shown a Tunisian passport when last stopped by the police, French prosecutor Francois Molins said. A soldier shot the suspect dead after he stabbed two women to death at a Marseille train station. 

Nov. 1-2: A suspected Islamist militant wounded two policemen in a knife attack near the parliament. One officer died from his injuries. The suspect was arrested. 

Dec. 6-7: Thousands of Tunisians protested in several cities against President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The labor union UGTT said the decision was a declaration of war.

Dec. 19: Tunisia announced that it will hold its first municipal elections in 2018 after postponing the vote several times. Soldiers and security forces will vote on April 29 and the rest of the public will vote on May 6, President Essebsi said. 

Dec. 26: The United Arab Emirates worked with Tunisia to combat a terrorist threat from female militants returning from Iraq and Syria, after banning Tunisian women from its passenger flights. "What concerns the United Arab Emirates is the possibility of terrorist acts committed by Tunisian women or by Tunisian passport holders," said Saida Garrach, an advisor to the Tunisian presidency. "There are terrorist plots in several countries." 


Jan. 8-12: Tunisians protested price hikes on common goods and clashed with police in more than a dozen cities and towns. At least one person was killed and almost 800 people were arrested after five nights of protests, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Major Khelifa Chibani. More than 58 security force members are injured and 57 police vehicles are damaged. 

200 arrested, dozens hurt in fresh Tunisia unrest

— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 10, 2018

Jan. 14: Government officials promised reforms after several nights of protests against price hikes on common goods. The reforms included an increase in government aid to needy families and officials pledged to review retirement disbursements for those being underpaid. But protests resumed after two days of calm in the capital. 

Jan. 20: Security forces near the Algerian border killed a top aide to an al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) leader. On February 7, security sources warned that the group may be trying to regroup in Tunisia.

Feb. 26: Ennahda decided to run a Jewish candidate in the May municipal elections. Simon Salameh, nominated for the council in Monastir district, said he wanted to prove Tunisia is “the land of tolerance.”

Mar. 20: A Tunisian man blew himself up, and his friend was shot and killed after being chased by authorities near the Libyan border. They were thought to be connected to Jund al Khilafa, a group that pledged allegiance to ISIS.

May 7-10: Ennahda beat its rivals in the first municipal elections since the 2011 protests but failed to win absolute majorities in many municipalities, including Tunis. Ennahda reportedly took 2,135 seats, while its rival Nidaa Tounes claimed 1,595 seats. Independents won 2,367 seats, nearly a third of the total. The municipal contests were marked by low voter turnout.


Jan. 3: Two militants blew themselves up in the southern city of Jilma after security officials stormed their safehouse. The two dead were members of an extremist cell called the Brigade of Jihad and Unity.

Feb. 9: Seven people were sentenced to life in prison for their roles in the 2015 attacks on the National Bardo Museum and a beach resort in Sousse. ISIS had claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed more than 60 people.

March 6: The Electoral Commission announced that the country would hold  parliamentary elections on October 6 and the presidential election on November 10 (later changed to November 17).

March 19: Security forces killed three ISIS militants in the Saloum mountains near the Algerian border. The counterterrorism operation was launched after ISIS posted pictures of armed militants in the mountains days earlier.

April 6: President Essebsi announced that he would not seek reelection in the presidential election scheduled for November. Essebsi, who won the country’s first free elections in 2014, said it was time to “open the door to the youth.”

June 25: Consecutive suicide bombings in downtown Tunis killed a police officer and injured eight people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility two days later.

July 20: Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi, announced he would run in the October parliamentary elections. “The decision to present Ghannouchi at the top of the party’s electoral list in Tunis, is to have leaders of parties play a more important role at this crucial stage in the history of the democratic transition in Tunisia,” Ennahda said in a statement.

July 25: Essebsi, Tunisia’s first democratically elected president, died at the age of 92. He came out of retirement in 2011 to serve as interim prime minister after the ouster of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled the country for 23 years. Essebsi founded the secular political party, Nidaa Tounes, which led a movement against Islamist parties in Tunisia’s government.

Sept. 15: Tunisia held its second democratic presidential elections since the 2011 revolution. In an unexpected result, all the major-party candidates were eliminated. Kais Saied, a little-known law professor and independent, claimed 18.4 percent of the vote, and Nabil Karoui, a businessman and jailed on charges of money laundering, won 15.6 percent of the vote. A runoff was scheduled for October 13.

Sept. 19: Ben Ali, the former autocratic ruler of Tunisia, died in exile in Saudi Arabia at the age of 83. He was ousted during the Arab Spring revolts of 2011. After he fled the country, a Tunisian court sentenced him to 35 years in prison and a $66 million fine during a trial in absentia.

Oct. 6: Ennahda won 52 of 217 seats in parliamentary elections, more than any other political party. But it won 17 fewer seats than in the 2014 parliamentary elections. The fragmented results made it difficult for Ennahda to form a governing coalition.  

Oct. 13: Kais Saied, a former professor, defeated Nabil Karoui to become Tunisia’s second democratically-elected president. He won 72.71 percent of the vote. He was sworn in on October 23. Ennahda had supported Saied, who did not describe himself as an Islamist. He said that he had advisors from both sides of the political spectrum.

Nov. 13: Parliament elected Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi as its speaker. Ghannouchi won 123 votes of a possible 217 in the deeply fragmented house. The Heart of Tunisia party, a rival of Ennahda, agreed to support Ghannouchi after negotiations. The two parties appeared likely to form a coalition government after the agreement.

Nov. 15: Ennahda chose Habib Jemli, a former junior minister in the first democratically elected government, as the country’s next prime minister. Jemli, 60, vowed to consider all political parties when forming his governing coalition. “Efficiency and integrity will be the basis for choosing the members of the government, whatever their affiliations without exclusion to any party,” Jemli said.


Jan. 2: Prime Minister-designate Habib Jemli, nominated by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, announced the formation of a new government comprised of independent politicians. “I have depended [in forming the cabinet] on elements of competence and independence from political parties,” he said. The proposed government would go to parliament for final approval. 

Jan. 10: Parliament rejected Prime Minister-designate Jemli’s proposed cabinet by a vote of 134 votes to 72. It was the first time that parliament had rejected a new government since the 2011 revolution. The vote of no confidence was a setback for Ennahda. President Kais Saied had 10 days to build a new coalition and selected former finance and tourism minister Elyes Fakhfakh as the new prime minister. 

Jan. 27: Ennahda rejected a proposed government that excluded other political parties. Prime Minister Fakhfakh had announced that he would not seek a unity coalition but would instead form a cabinet only from parties, including Ennahda, that were “aligned with the values of the revolution.” If Fakhfakh could not form a new government, Tunisia would hold a new parliamentary election. 

Feb. 27: Parliament approved the proposed government of prime minister-designate Elyes Fakhfakh, ending months of political deadlock. The new government included 32 cabinet members, including six from Ennahda. “All this has proved the strength of the Tunisian experience and its ability to manage discord in accordance with the constitution and away from populism and political tensions,” said Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi. 

Mar. 6: Two suicide bombers detonated explosive devices near the U.S. embassy in Tunis. The blast killed one police officer and injured five others. On March 10, authorities arrested five men linked to the attack. No extremist group claimed responsibility. 

Mar. 8: Abdelhamid Jelassi, a senior Ennahda official and former party vice president, resigned from the movement citing “a cleansing of dissent” by Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi. “I belonged to Ennahda for 40 years to defend a set of values and principles. I believe that continuing in Ennahda is not useful to advance these values,” Jelassi said. Ghannouchi’s opponents within Ennahda had accused him of tightening control of the party and pushing out opposition. 

Apr. 4: Security forces announced that they had killed two terrorists during an operation in the mountainous Kasserine region along the border with Algeria. Groups affiliated with the Islamic State and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb had taken refuge in the mountain range. 

May 27: Ennahda Vice President Abdelfattah Mourou announced his retirement from politics to return to practicing law. Mourou told Tunisian media that he had “torn the ticket of politics” and was no longer interested in the Islamist movement.