Tunisia Arab Spring 2011
A Tunisian woman waves the national flag in front of the interior ministry during clashes between demonstrators and security forces in Tunis in January 2011Getty

Here's your starter for 10. What country in Africa abolished slavery on 23 January 1846?

The answer is Tunisia.

Well before Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation issued under his Executive War Powers provisions and the Thirteenth Amendment (31 January 1865), and generations before Saudi Arabia formally abolished this vile institution in 1962, the Ottoman governor of Tunisia was persuaded he should end it. Ahmed Bey ben Mohamed Chérif decreed slavery abolished this last week of January, one hundred and seventy years ago.

Although the descendants of these slaves who came mostly from West Africa still face discrimination today, there was last weekend a two-day event (Le Delire) to highlight their plight and raise awareness and funds on their behalf.

Unfortunately for the country and its Government, this is but a small fraction of those feeling aggrieved as unemployment, which is officially about 15 per cent, is double that for the young and there is little prospect of any improvement any time soon.

This sustained level of unemployment is causing severe civil unrest every bit as bad as before the "Jasmine Revolution" of 2011. Add the real threat of terrorist attack, which the Tunisian authorities concede is all too possible, and the deleterious effect all this is having on the country's vital tourist industry – roughly seven per cent of GDP – and one can understand that the Government has sought support from the former colonial power, France.

Democracy in Tunisia, of such recent origin, has come at a hard price. Was this inevitable? Could more have been done to help?

One notable January anniversary in Tunisia is just over five years old and was meant to usher in a new beginning, free from corruption and bring about a more even distribution of wealth throughout the whole country and not just to the area of the capital and a few other coastal regions.

On 14 January 2011, former President Zine El Abidene Ben Ali was finally toppled following weeks of street violence which had seen the use of live ammunition and the deaths of some 50, or more, anti-government demonstrators up to the time of his departure.

A picnic in comparison with what was soon to occur in other countries as the "Arab Spring" spread throughout North Africa and Middle East, the now Mr Ben Ali with his wife and children fled to Saudi Arabia. Not Mr Ben Ali's first choice for sure as the plane taking him out of the country was denied landing in Paris by order of his former "good friend", French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

All those happy photo shots with their respective wives at the Presidential Palace in Carthage had counted for nought! With the demonstrations having caused anxiety in both Paris and Washington, France and the United States being Tunisia's main allies, President Sarkozy's decision could not have been made lightly. His Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Michèle Alliot-Marie, had suggested shortly before Mr Ben Ali's fall, sending in French riot police to restore order, or even France's "world renowned" paratroopers. (Madame Alliot-Marie resigned from her ministerial post in February 2011).

Between 1987, when Ben Ali inherited a somewhat broken economy and 2007, Tunisia's growth averaged about five per cent annually. This was largely made possible by the very close links established between Tunisia and the EU and particularly France which takes about a third of its exports and supplies a fifth of all imports.

Despite making Tunisia an economic success in Africa, the country's rural interior continued to lag behind the northern, coastal areas and this was more noticeable in the south where poverty and unemployment have become a norm. Economic growth has not been able to absorb an expanding population where over 55 per cent of the population is under 25 years old. At present, it is estimated that 30 per cent of the young unemployed are university educated!

Like his predecessor, Habib Bourguiba, Zine Ben Ali was strongly secular and opposed to Islamism. He had long experience before becoming President, dealing with potential terrorism and subversion as Director General of National Security and Interior Minister and this was his real value to Western governments.

With his fall however, some babies may have fallen out with the bath water. On 07 March 2011, now current President Beji Caid Essebsi, then Interim President, dissolved the State Security Department (Secret Police), a measure described as being "...in harmony with the values of the revolution...and in consecrating the climate of confidence and transparency in the relationship between the security services and the citizen..."

In the light of last year's terrorist incidents, this is unlikely to have helped. March 2015 saw the Bardot National Museum attack, 22 killed and 50 injured; June's Sousse beach hotels attack left 39 dead and another 39 injured; and in November, a suicide bomber in Tunis killed 13 of the Presidential Guard, wounding a further 16. European tourist numbers slumped by over 50 per cent in 2015.

With demonstrations and riots against continuing unemployment and poverty taking place throughout Tunisia in recent weeks and with even the police threatening to go on strike if they don't get a pay rise, it is little wonder that the advice from the British Government is not to go to the country unless essential to do so.

In late January, Thomas Cook, Thomson's and First Choice, have all cancelled their holidays on offer to Tunisia until at least 31 October, it looks like another bad year with empty beaches.

Could at least some of this outcome been avoided? If President Zine Ben Ali had just used tear gas and rubber bullets instead of live ammunition, then those French riot police might just have gone in.

As the former colonial power however, France could have brought forward an economic support package of say, $1.1 billion, over maybe, five years "to help poor regions and young people, putting the focus on employment..."

Ah, jolly good President Hollande, taken France five years but better late than never.