Timeline: Tunisia's bumpy path to democracy

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia’s vote for president on Sunday is the next step in its transition to democracy after a revolution that triggered the “Arab Spring” uprisings of 2011.

FILE PHOTO: A Tunisian riot policeman takes shelter behind a door while protesters throw stones during clashes in Tunis January 28, 2011. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

Here is a timeline showing the major events from the revolution to this year’s elections.

* December 2010 - Vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi sets himself on fire after police confiscate his cart. His death and funeral spark nationwide protests over unemployment, corruption and repression.

* January 2011 - Veteran autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali flees to Saudi Arabia, as Tunisia’s revolution takes steps towards democracy and triggers uprisings across the Arab world.

* October 2011 - Moderate Islamist party Ennahda, banned under Ben Ali, wins most seats and forms a coalition with secular parties to together plan a new constitution.

* March 2012 - Growing polarization emerges between Islamists and secularists, particularly over women’s rights, as Ennahda pledges to keep Islamic law out of the new constitution.

* February 2013 - Secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid is shot dead, prompting large street protests and the resignation of the prime minister. Jihadists start mounting attacks on police.

* December 2013 - Ennahdha cedes power after mass protests and a national dialogue, with a technocratic government replacing it in office.

* January 2014 - Parliament approves a new constitution guaranteeing personal freedoms and equal rights for minorities, and splitting power between the president and prime minister.

Slideshow ( 14 images )

* December 2014 - Beji Caid Essebsi wins Tunisia’s first free presidential election. Ennahda joins the ruling coalition.

* March 2015 - Islamic State attacks on the Bardo Museum in Tunis kill 22 people. In June a gunman shoots dead 38 people at a beach resort in Sousse.

The attacks devastate the tourism sector, vital to Tunisia’s struggling economy, and are followed by a suicide bombing in November that kills 12 soldiers.

* March 2016 - The army finally turns the tide against the jihadist threat by defeating dozens of Islamic State fighters who rampage into a southern town from across the Libyan border.

* August 2016 - Parliament chooses Youssef Chahed as prime minister after ousting his predecessor for slow progress in enacting economic reforms as the International Monetary Fund negotiates a loan program worth around $2.8 billion.

* December 2017 - The economy approaches crisis point as the trade deficit soars and the currency slides to its weakest level in 16 years. As inflation reaches 7.8%, the Central Bank raises interest rates to record levels.

* January 2018 - Protesters march in cities across the country over lower living standards caused by the economic problems and government efforts to reduce the deficit by cutting subsidies and hiking tax.

* May 2018 - Ennahda does better than other parties in municipal elections, but with public frustration over the economy, only 34% of voters turn out.

* July 2019 - With elections looming, and days after a now rare militant attack in Tunis, Essebsi dies. The presidential vote is brought forward from November to September.

* September/October 2019 - Voters show their dissatisfaction with the major parties, electing a deeply fractured parliament and sending two political newcomers - Kais Saied and Nabil Karoui through to a presidential runoff.

Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Frances Kerry