New North African leaders call for investment

Leaders of North African countries involved in the Arab Spring have sought to reassure the world's elite in Davos that the rise of political Islam is not a threat to democracy

The leaders instead pleaded for help creating jobs and satisfying the hunger of their people for a better life, according to Reuters. Politicians, activists and entrepreneurs from countries that have cast off dictators and held free elections in the last 12 months were prized guests at the World Economic Forum, where they asked for patience, understanding and investment.

The new prime ministers of Tunisia and Morocco, both chosen from Islamic parties, dismissed Western worries about a surge of political Islam across North Africa and sought to dispel the notion that the promise of last year's protests had faded.

"I do not believe the new regimes should be called political Islamist regimes,” Tunisian Prime Minister Hammadi Jebali told a Davos panel. “We must be careful with our terminology... For the first time in the Arab world, we have free and honest elections that led to democratic regimes."

Arab officials and civil society activists have urged Western executives and commentators not to demonise the Islamic movements.

"I would like to ask the businessmen in the room. Have you suffered from the victory of the Islamists? You supported the dictatorships in the past," Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane said. "Today we can guarantee your interests more than they did in the past."

Officials trying to meet huge expectations for economic improvement, jobs and social progress in newly democratic states that suffered big losses during the upheaval said the Arab Spring would take years to produce results.

"One year ago, when the revolution starts, I think we were dreaming, and we were dreaming with our feet in the sky,” said Mustapha Kamel Nabli, governor of Tunisia's Central Bank. “Now we are still dreaming, but we are dreaming with our feet on the ground."

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