After Two Years, the Tunisian Revolution Betrayed?

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Tunisian people wave national flags in front of the big clock as part of the festivities that mark the second anniversary of the uprising that ousted long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on 14 January 2013 in Tunis. (AFP - Fethi Belaid)

By: Noureddine Baltayeb

Published Monday, January 14, 2013

Tunisia – On the second anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution, Tunisian public opinion seems more divided than ever. It’s been a year since the Islamist al-Nahda movement and its allies came into power, but opposition parties are calling for a boycott of Nahda’s revolution celebrations.

Instead, the opposition has called for demonstrations in protest of a revolution they claim has been subverted, according to Hammam al-Hamami, the official spokesperson of the opposition Popular Front.

The main opposition parties are divided into two coalitions. One includes the Popular Movement, the Republican party, and the Social Democratic Path party. The second includes Call for Tunisia, the Socialist party, and the National Democratic Action party.

Despite fears of clashes between government and opposition supporters, both opposition coalitions organized a rally for 14 January 2013 on Bourguiba Street.

The second anniversary of the revolution comes amidst mounting social tensions. There are blocked streets and sit-ins at every corner. Almost no city has escaped protests, many of them demanding economic development and jobs.

In the Tunisia-Libya border town of Bin Kirdan, tear gas was fired at protesters and some demonstrators broke into al-Nahda’s headquarters. The town voted heavily for al-Nahda in the previous elections.

Dialogue and Accountability

The Wafa Movement, which split from the Nahda-allied Congress for the Republic (CPR), held a conference in which they called for holding corrupt figures in all sectors accountable.

Interim Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki called for a broad and comprehensive national dialogue. He received leaders of all major parties, including those believed to be close to the ousted regime.

All political parties welcomed the idea of an all-inclusive national dialogue, including the leader of al-Nahda Rashid Ghannouchi. He maintained that an inclusive dialogue is key to organizing transparent and fair elections. If parties fail to reach an agreement, he argued that this could lead to the “Somalization” or “militarization” of the country.

It is believed that Ghannouchi’s statement could pave the way for abandoning a draft law supported by al-Nahda that aims to exclude former regime officials from politics.

Most political and labor union forces condemned the draft law, arguing that it is inconsistent with the principles of human rights because it amounts to collective punishment. These forces called instead for fostering a process of transitional justice that would put corrupt figures on trial without delay.

The Government’s Responsibility

The opposition holds the government and al-Nahda responsible for the deteriorating economic situation in the country. They are calling for a dialogue on national priorities that would draw a clear road map to reassure Tunisian citizens on economic security.

Specifically, the opposition wants to see the establishment of a high commission that would schedule elections, promote a hands-off policy towards the judiciary, and address the demands of the revolution, including jobs and freedom of the press.

The government, however, does not share the opposition’s vision. Al-Nahda believes it is the subject of a multi-pronged conspiracy, at its heart are anti-Islamist economic lobbies and media outlets that seek to exaggerate the government’s mistakes.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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