The Obama administration says it is providing $20 million to support the democratic transition in Tunisia following a popular uprising that ousted the North African country's longtime autocratic leader in January and emboldened anti-government protesters across the Middle East.
The State Department announced Tuesday that the money will go to help draft a new constitution, strengthen political parties and non-partisan civic groups, develop a framework for free and fair elections, create a professional and independent news media and encourage economic reforms. Tunisia's revolt was a catalyst for the unrest that is now sweeping the Arab world. The U.S. is concerned that the revolutions may be hijacked by extremists or anti-democratic forces.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Tunisia last week to pledge U.S. backing for democratic change.