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Is This Tunisia’s Second Phase of Revolution?

Crowds gather on the street after Tunisia's president suspended parliament, in La Marsa, near Tunis, Tunisia July 26, 2021, in this still image obtained from a social media video. Layli Foroudi/via REUTERS

Crowds gather on the street after Tunisia's president suspended parliament, in La Marsa, near Tunis, Tunisia July 26, 2021, in this still image obtained from a social media video. Layli Foroudi/via REUTERS

Published Aug 21, 2021

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OPINION: Anger among Tunisians had been building up, and this was the climax. Over the past year, Tunisians have witnessed their economy decline and social cohesion deteriorate in their country, writes Ambassador Narjes DRIDI.

The world’s attention focused on Tunisia on July 25 when thousands of images, videos and photographs flooded social media platforms, showing overwhelming celebrations across the country. Tunisians took to the streets, despite Covid-19 curfews and contamination risks, to applaud President Kais Saied’s decisions to remove the head of government and suspend parliament’s activities.

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Earlier that same day, on which Tunisians celebrate Republic Day annually, both young and old went out to demonstrate against the mishandling of Covid-19 pandemic after the rise of cases.

Anger among Tunisians had been building up, and this was the climax. Over the past year, Tunisians have witnessed their economy decline and social cohesion deteriorate in their country. They have been feeling helpless and frustrated by the lack of reforms by the government and daily political divisions and fights in the parliament hemicycle.

Demonstrators demanded action from the president of the republic and called him to step in as he embodies, by the constitution, the unity of the state, and is the custodian of its constitution and the independence of the country.

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The government, not being able to address the social unrest which was deepened by the health crisis, has brought the country to the edge of a total collapse, which posed a threat to its national security. This led to the invoking of article 80 of the constitution, which allows the prresident of the Republic to take appropriate measures, in case of any imminent national security threat. President Saied used his constitutional mandate to implement this emergency act, though some commentators around the world have labelled it “a coup” and an anti-democratic move.

Indeed “interpretation” lies in the main core concept of law, and President Saied is very well positioned on this matter, having educated many generations of law students as a former constitutional law professor. By enacting the power he is granted by the constitution, President Saied was in accordance with the mandate given to him in the constitution, since a real national security threat was threatening the stability of the country.

It is important to recall that Tunisia, since its independence in 1956, has adopted a paramount standing position regarding the “non-interference in internal affairs of other countries”.

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Voices coming from outside are totally rejected and discarded by Tunisians who feel extremely proud of the political independence of their country, their young democracy and their president’s measures to continue the path of democracy.

The time has come now for wide and inclusive dialogue, which includes the youth who need to be heard and anchored in establishing and maintaining Tunisia’s democracy.

No setback of democracy will be ever accepted for them and their children who will be writing their democratic evolution history.

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This is the very landmark of Tunisia throughout its history, rebirthing from its ashes since the Romans burnt down Cartago, using wisdom and comprehensive actions far from bloody conflicts.

Tunisia will remain a moderate society and a democratic fortress in the Mediterranean looking up to education, innovation and modernity. President Saied has repeatedly reaffirmed his attachment to fundamental liberties and values of democracy.

Security and economy are the main concerns in the near future given the geopolitical situation and Tunisia’s environment.

Therefore, as many brotherly and friendly countries and partners have shown huge solidarity, and provided aid to overcome the pandemic crisis this last month. Tunisia will rely on their efforts to carry the country towards its democratic pathway by addressing economic issues.

*Ambassador Narjes DRIDI is the Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia to South Africa

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL and Independent Media.

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