Sen. Bob Corker has been in Africa since Friday, visiting countries in the western and northern regions of the continent as part of a fact-finding trip for his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The trip, focused on counterterrorism initiatives and political changes happening in the region, has sent the senator and former Chattanooga mayor to Senegal, Mali, Algeria and Tunisia to meet with foreign leaders.
Among the leaders visited by Corker was Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki.
Corker’s trip also coincided with the resignation of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who announced he would be stepping down from his post Tuesday.
The resignation came on the heels of his own political party’s refusal to back his proposals for a new government of independent technocrats, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The resignation fueled political tension that had escalated since the assassination of Chokri Belaid earlier this month, who was a political opponent of Jebali’s, the report said.
In a news release, Corker emphasized U.S. support for Tunisian citizens, who collectively overthrew a dictatorship during the 2011 Arab Spring. The senator said after meeting with Jebali and other leaders that he was “hopeful” the country would continue moving toward a stable democracy.
“Building a democracy takes time and care; smart, engaged leaders who are committed to freedom and human rights; and a strong and unwavering commitment to keeping peace and order in a time of crisis, as well as a commitment to a peaceful transition of power,” Corker said. “It is clear that many of those I have met with are committed to these goals. I am very hopeful that Tunisia will be able to resolve the current situation peacefully and move on to complete the drafting and adoption of a new constitution, as well as free and fair elections within the next year.”
Corker is expected to return from his trip tomorrow. Since becoming ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee last month, the senator has also attended a security conference in Munich, Germany.
Updated @ 2:11 p.m. on 2/20/13:An earlier version of this story stated that Corker met with the Tunisian prime minister. In fact, he met with the president of Tunisia.