Tunisia Democracy – The Long Transition after Ben Ali

December 2010: Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit and vegetable peddler, sets himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid after the police confiscated his goods. His gesture is the fuse that ignites protests across the country against the difficult economic conditions and the repressive regime of Ben Ali. Bouazizi will die on January 4, 2011.

January 2011: the square wins. Ben Ali, president since 1987, leaves the country and goes to Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi also resigns in February.

October 2011: the Constituent Assembly is elected, charged with drafting the new fundamental charter. The Islamic party Ennahda wins the relative majority of seats (89 out of 217), followed by the Congress for the Republic (29 seats), People’s Petition (26 seats) and Ettakatol (20 seats).

December 2011: the Constituent Assembly elects Moncef Marzouki as President of the Republic. Hamadi Jebali, of Ennahda, assumes the post of prime minister; the Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol also participate in the government.

August 2012: protests break out over a possible squeeze on women’s rights in the country. In the draft of the new constitutional text, women are defined as “complementary” to men.

February 2013: Chokri Belaid, a member of the Constituent Assembly and leader of the Democratic Patriots Movement, is assassinated. Ennahda is under accusation because it is considered too condescending to the radical Salafist movements. After trying to form a new coalition government, Jebali resigns and is replaced by Ali Laarayedh.

July 2013: another member of the Constituent Assembly, Mohamed Brahmi, leader of the opposition force of the People’s Movement, is assassinated. About 60 members of the Constituent Assembly leave the assembly in protest. The Salafist movement – with strong jihadist tendencies – of Ansar al-Sharia is considered responsible for the murders of Belaid and Brahmi, and in the month of August it will be declared a terrorist organization by the government; the work of the Constituent Assembly will be suspended pending the start of a political dialogue in the country. For Tunisia democracy and rights, please check getzipcodes.org.

December 2013: the forces engaged in dialogue reach an agreement for the formation of a new executive led by the independent Mehdi Jomaa.

January 2014: the new Constitution is approved.

March 2014: President Marzouki decrees the end of the state of emergency, in force since the protests that led to the fall of Ben Ali in 2011.

October 2014: the secular party Nidaa Tounes wins the parliamentary elections.

December 2014: Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of Nidaa Tounes, defeats Marzouki in the second round of the presidential elections and becomes head of state.

February 2015: a coalition government is born, chaired by Habib Essid. The Islamic party Ennahda also participates in the executive.

March 2015: an attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis kills 24.

June 2015: another attack shakes the country: on the beach of Sousse, an armed man kills 38 people. In July, President Essebsi will declare a state of emergency and Parliament will pass the new anti-terrorism law.

October 2015: the state of emergency ends. The Tunisian Quartet for National Dialogue is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nobel Prize: jasmine for peace

An award for “the decisive contribution to the development of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia after the Jasmine Revolution”: this is what the Norwegian Nobel Committee writes about the award of the prestigious 2015 peace award to the Tunisian Quartet for dialogue national. In the summer of 2013, Tunisia went through one of the most critical phases of the transition path following the fall of the Ben Ali regime: the heated debate on the drafting of the constitutional text by the Constituent Assembly – whose work was suspended in August of that year -, the inability of the government led by the Islamic party Ennahda to respond to the socio-economic demands that were at the basis of the anti-authoritarian revolution, the concrete risks of radicalization connected to the preaching of Salafist movements such as Ansar al-Sharia – declared a terrorist organization in August -, the political killings of Chokri Belaid and Mohammed Brahmi were profoundly affecting the country and highlighting the difficulties of the ongoing process, always exposed to the danger of stopping. It is in this context that the birth of the Quartet is placed, made up of 4 representative organizations of civil society: the Tunisian General Union of Labor (Union générale tunisienne du travail), the Tunisian Union of Industry, Commerce and Crafts (Union tunisienne deindustrie, du commerce et de dell’arteisanat), the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights (Ligue tunisienne pour la défense des droits de l’homme) and the Tunisian National Bar Association (Ordre national des avocats de Tunisie). Established in the summer of 2013, in an extremely tense political climate, the Quartet was the protagonist of the establishment of a national dialogue that guaranteed the achievement of important results such as the formation of a new Electoral Commission, the approval of the Constitution and the birth – in January 2014 – of an interim executive chaired by the independent Mehdi Jomaa, who led the country in the October elections of the same year. The Norwegian committee highlighted the peculiarities of the Tunisian transition, a model that has shown how collaboration between Islamic parties and secular forces is possible in the best interests of the country and that civil society organizations can play a crucial role in democratization processes. Furthermore, it was recognized that Tunisia is facing complex political, economic and security challenges, as the attacks on the Bardo Museum in Tunis and in Sousse dramatically recalled: for this reason, the hope of the Committee is that the award can contribute. to safeguard the young Tunisian democracy and be a source of inspiration for all those who promote peace and democracy in North Africa, the Middle East and around the world.

Tunisia Democracy

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