President Ben Ali addressed his people last night:
[He] backed down in the face of deadly riots in his country and vowed Thursday not to run for re-election in 2014. Ben Ali has been in office for 23 years.... In addition to vowing to not change the constitution to allow him to run again, Ben Ali promised press freedom and ordered his security forces to stop shooting at protesters.
Tunisian blogger Youssef Gaigi says the speech was "definitely a major shift in Tunisia’s history":
Ben Ali talked for the third time in the past month to the people. Something unprecedented, we barely knew this guy. Ben Ali talked in the Tunisian dialect instead of Arabic for the first time ever.
He spoke directly to the police forces and ordered them not to shoot, unless in cases of self-defense. On the same line he said a commission will investigate in the murders that occurred. ... He stated that the right of setting an organization, a political party, or a media will be totally opened. He said all censorship online or on traditional media will be stopped.
And there seems to be progress in that direction already:
Within hours after the speech, reports were already pouring in confirming the unblocking of some previously censored websites. ... [T]he Twittosphere received the confirmation of the liberation of blogger, activist, and Global Voices contributor Slim Amamou, whose first tweet as a free man read: “I am Free.”
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