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AFRICA
17 January 2011 Last updated at 07:34 ET
Tunisia: Will there be a domino effect?
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Fear and rejoicing in Tunis
In the wake of the ousting of Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, observers have drawn parallels with other countries in the region.
There is speculation about a possible domino effect similar to the collapse of Communist governments around Eastern Europe in 1989.
In several countries of the Middle East and North Africa, youthful and rapidly growing populations face rising food prices, high unemployment and lack of political representation. Some are also ruled by aging autocrats facing succession issues.
Which are the countries involved, and what is the likelihood of real change?
Egypt
On the face of it, Egypt has many similarities with Tunisia - tough economic conditions, official corruption and little opportunity for its citizens to express their dissatisfaction with the political system. President Hosni Mubarak, 82, has an almost complete monopoly on power, has been in office for three decades and is seeking re-election this autumn.
But Egyptians' deep frustration has not so far translated into large-scale protest, and political demonstrations are generally restricted to a few hundred people.
Compared with Tunisians, Egyptians are on average less literate and educated, and less internet-savvy. Most are just struggling to survive.
Population: 84.5 million
Unemployment: 9.4% (2009)
Land area: 1 million sq km
GNI per capita: $2,070
No sign Egypt will take the Tunisian road
The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says most Egyptians do not see any way that they can change their country or their lives through political action, be it voting, activism, or going out on the streets to demonstrate.
But reports of an attempted self-immolation in the capital Cairo on Monday will ring alarm bells in the government, our correspondent says.
It was the suicide of the young Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi, who burned himself to death in mid-December, which triggered the unrest which ultimately overthrew President Ben Ali.
Algeria
As the winter protests escalated in Tunisia, its western neighbour was also saw large numbers of young people taking to the streets. As in Tunisia, the trigger appeared to be economic grievances - in particular sharp increases in the price of food.
Population: 35.4 million
Unemployment: 10.2%
Land area: 2.4 million sq km
GNI per capita: $4,420
Is deadly rioting in Tunisia and Algeria linked?
A state of emergency has been in place in Algeria since 1992, and public demonstrations in the capital have been banned. There are regular impromptu protests elsewhere in the country, but in recent weeks these broke out simultaneously across Algeria for the first time, including in the capital, Algiers. There have been reports of self-immolations, too.
However, the protests have not escalated in the same way as in Tunisia, something that analysts have attributed to the relatively restrained response of the security forces, as well as the government's intervention to limit price rises.
Algeria's government has considerable wealth from the export of oil and gas and says it is trying to tackle social and economic complaints with a huge public spending programme. But grievances remain, including anger over corruption, bureaucracy, and a lack of political reform.
Algeria's tumultuous recent history stands in stark contrast to Tunisia's. It had its own "people power revolution" in 1988, resulting in the loosening of restrictions on the media and multi-party elections. This in turn led to a bloody conflict between security forces and Islamist rebels.
Libya
"There is none better than Zine to govern Tunisia. Tunisia now lives in fear."
Population: 6.5 million
Unemployment: 13% (2005)
Land area: 1.77 million sq km
GNI per capita: $12,020
Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi's sharp reaction on Saturday to the overthrow of President Ben Ali would seem to reflect his own nervousness about a possible domino effect.
After 41 years in power, Col Gadaffi is the longest serving ruler in Africa and the Middle East, and also one of the most autocratic.
Protest of any kind is strictly prohibited, but even so there were reports of unrest over the weekend in the city of al-Bayda.
However, Libya has a much smaller population and huge oil wealth.
Jordan
Thousands staged protests across Jordan in a "day of rage" on Saturday in protest against rising food prices and unemployment. Some demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai.
Population: 6.5 million
Unemployment, official: 12.2%; unofficial: 30%
Land area: 89,300 sq km
GNI per capita: $3,740
The government had last week slashed prices on certain foods and fuels, but the protesters say more needs to be done to tackle poverty caused by inflation.
But Jordan is run by a royal family, and some sections of society are loyal to the monarchy. King Abdullah himself appears so far to have escaped most of the wrath of the protesters.
And so far protests have been peaceful and there have been no arrests.
Morocco
Like Tunisia, Morocco has been facing economic problems and allegations of corruption in ruling circles.
Population: 32.3 million
Unemployment: 10%
Land area: 710,850 sq km
GNI per capita: $2,790
Morocco's reputation was damaged after Wikileaks revealed allegations of increased corruption, in particular the royal family's business affairs and the "appalling greed" of people close to King Mohammed VI.
Wikileaks cables from the US embassy in Tunis have cited similar problems in President Ben Ali's inner circle.
But Morocco, like Egypt and Algeria, does allow limited freedom of expression and has so far been able to contain protests.
Like Jordan it is a monarchy with strong support among sections of the public.
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