Tunisia marks 1st anniversary of Arab Spring

By the Associated Press | January 14, 2012 | 5:23 AM EST

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia is marking the one-year anniversary of the revolution that ended the dictatorship of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali — and sparked uprisings around the Arab world — with prudent optimism.

Worries over continued high unemployment cast a shadow over Tunisians' pride at transforming their country. Now a human rights activist is president, and a moderate Islamist jailed for years by the old regime is prime minister at the head of a diverse coalition.

The death of a fruit vendor who set himself on fire prompted protests that spread around Tunisia, unleashing years of pent-up frustration and anger. Under pressure from the street, Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14.

Leading Arab dignitaries are joining Tunisia's leaders to commemorate Saturday's anniversary.