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Middle East and Africa

TUNISIA: the dynamic political deadlock

After the outbursts in 2010 Tunisia has still not found a political balance. Now the government lead by Ennahda and the opposition have come to an agreement.

Since the outbursts of the so-called Arab Springtime the people of Tunisia are still not quiet. “Al-sha’b yurid isqat al-nizam” (the people want the regime to fall) is one of the slogans loudly exclaimed during the manifestations in the squares of Tunis following the killing of Mohamed Brahmi, leader of the opposition party Popular Movement and member of the NCA National Constituent Assembly of July 25th 2013. Prior to that date, other war slogans had inflamed the principle streets of the capital when six month before that Ckori Belaid was assassinated. He too was a member of the lay opposition party and a severe critic of Ennahda, the Islamic party in power. With the same anger and dissatisfaction as when the Tunisian revolution was sparked, which called for the fall of the dictator regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunis population is now again voicing its protest.


Two years after the democratic elections the delicate transition phase towards democracy seems to be prolonged without a precise end in view. The two political homicides and the increasing popular bad feeling, due in part to the failed promises of the government, have thrown Tunis into a state of profound political crisis, which involved the transformation of the political debate in sterile steps of responsibility within the Troika, the government coalition formed by Ennahda, Ettakatol and the Republican Congress (CPR).


This situation was caused by the ideological political break which developed following the fall of the dictatorial regime. In this break on the one end part of the Tunisian population have declared themselves in favor of an Islamist and conservative tendency – personified by Ennahda party - on the other those who on the contrary want to apply secular ideology – that is the left wing lay opposition parties. Together with this last faction it is possible to place also the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGGT) which seems interested in exploiting the bad feeling and presenting itself as an alternative to the coalitions in power. The Country, giving also the strong economic crisis seemed to have reached a political deadlock which could have moved it towards a civil war between the supporters and those opposing Ennahda. In the last days however, it seems that there are concrete signs of development. On the 5th of last October Ennahda and the most important groups of the opposition signed an agreement which foresees three weeks of negotiations and the successive resignations of the party in power with the nomination of a political executive ad interim. According to the agreement called “Quartet” the most urgent responsibility of the technical government super partes will be the nomination of a Prime Minister, the editing of the Constitution within a month, and where the elections are concerned the nomination of members of the Superior Independent Authority for the Election (IHAE). In spite of the fact that in these days political coalitions and mediators have met several times, none of these meetings has been considered as the first official beginning of the Qartet agreement, so that we still do not know for how long the deadlines just programmed will be prolonged.


Where the next elections are concerned the auspice was that of revote on the 17th of next December, the third anniversary of the death of Mohamed Bouazizi, the man who with his sacrifice had reawaken the spirit of the Tunisian people. However, seen the numerous problems that exist, elections will probably be spoken of only in February 2014.


Therefore the countdown has not yet begun exactly because of the delay at the beginning of the negotiations, the opposition parties had called many manifestations for the 23rd of October, a date on which according to the declaration of the UGGT the official beginning of work for the new government should start.


However, the beginning of the negotiations have been delayed due to a tragic event: in the afternoon of October the 23rd at Sidi Ali Ben Aoun, in the chiefdom of Sidi Bouzid, six officials of the national Guard were killed and four men were injured in a battle with an Islamic terrorist group.


A similar event took place on the 19th of October when two agents of the national Tunisian Guards were killed by a group of terrorists and a third man was injured during an attack on two barracks at the borders of Algeria. Therefore the renewed terrorist alarm by the spokesman of the Ministry of Defense Taoufik Rahmouni, have aggravated the situation still more. In fact after the fall of the dictatorial regime the country has seen an increase in attacks by the Jihadist groups.


An atmosphere of tension has therefore spread in the country and the idea exists of a link between the two political homicides which shattered the nation and the terroristic attacks. In the agenda of the future provisional government there is therefore the commitment to the battle against Jihadist cells, caused by the fear that Tunisia could become a dangerous corridor for terrorist attacks between Algeria and Libya.

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