Tunisia : two years after the Jasmin Revolution the country is stuck between ‘national dialogue’ and the political impasse


Back in October 23, 2011, Tunisia organized its first free and democratic elections since 1956, year of the independence and liberation from French tutelage. Some time before,  Mohammed Bouazizi’s desperate and heroic act had triggered what would become for posterity the largest uprising in the Arab world.

Back in October 23, 2011, Tunisia organized its first free and democratic elections since 1956, year of the independence and liberation from French tutelage. Some time before,  Mohammed Bouazizi’s desperate and heroic act had triggered what would become for posterity the largest uprising in the Arab world.

One year after the ‘Jasmine Revolution’, Tunisia organized the first democratic election since dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from power. Tunisia turned the page on its political history and it seemed that the West and the other countries of the Arab world could witness a kind of political miracle, as a movement started from the bottom and supported by the Tunisian élites and young generations seemed to be able to turn a thirty-year dictatorship into a democracy, a new landmark for other countries tangled in dictatorships in the rest of the Arab-Muslim world.

Unfortunately, two years after the Jasmin Revolution, the hope of democratic transition came to a standstill and the ‘national dialogue’ to exit the political impasse is not launched yet. Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party, who won elections with 41.5 per cent, has so far failed at the institutional but also at the economic level.

Ennahda has been unable to give a political change and is accused by the opposition to cover the violence and oppression of the Salafis who are plunging the country into religious obscurantism. In Tunisia there are about 400 mosques controlled directly by the Salafis, cities are witnessing the return of the ‘niqab’, theater performances and art exhibitions are blocked, the opposition media are silenced. Ennahda has also proven to be unable to fight against unemployment, social discomfort and failed to dismantle nepotism and corruption. Some tragic events have also made Ennahda political path even more arduous than it should be. The double murder of Chokri Belaïd – Secretary-general of the Democratic Patriots’ Movement – and Mohammed Brahmi, deputy in Sidi Bouzid village (Mohammed Bouazizi’s hometown ) and founder of the Attayar Achaabi Party. Two political opponents killed with the same weapon. Perhaps a sign that there is a plan to silence the opposition?

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