23 October 2012

Tunisia: Election Anniversary Raises Anxiety in Tunisia

Tunis — Tunisia's ruling troika calls for celebrating October 23rd, but citizens fear that political differences will erupt into a crisis.

October 23rd marks the one-year anniversary of Tunisia's first democratic elections, which set the stage for political transformations across the Arab world.

But a year later, many say the country is plagued by instability and political rows. Deputies have yet to finish writing the constitution and citizens are stocking up on food, bracing for a crisis.

The Constituent Assembly has lost its main value and importance, which is to write the constitution, and paid attention to secondary matters, said Aridha Chaabia MP Aymen Zouaghi.

Ahmed Khsoussi of the Movement of Socialist Democrats complained about he called the predominance of the executive power at the expense of the Constituent Assembly. He started a hunger strike in protest.

Fadhil Moussa, a member of the constitution drafting committee, however, maintained that the committee is making progress and prepared the draft constitution. Discussions of the first articles start on October 23rd, he said.

Meanwhile, the opposition, labour unions and civil society believe that the Islamist-dominated government has failed to realise the goals of the revolution. Chief among them were employment, constitution-writing and holding the former regime to account

They called for forming a government of technocrats to lead the second interim stage.

Former Interim Prime Minister and Nidaa Tounes chief Beji Caid Essebsi said last month that the current government would lose its legitimacy on October 23rd.

Meanwhile, leftist parties and other figures called for neutralising the sovereign ministries. There were also calls on Facebook to put an end to the government's work on October 23rd.

The governing troika rejected these calls and described this government as the first legitimate one in the country's history.

"After the 23rd, there is the 24th," Human Rights Minister and government spokesman Samir Dilou said, adding that those who call for toppling the government must leave themselves.

Ameur Larayedh, head of Ennahda's political bureau, said that October 23rd would be a day of joy. His party and its allies called for celebrating the anniversary.

Still, political disputes have created an atmosphere of fear for Tunisians. The killing of a Nidaa Tounes co-ordinator in Tataouine raised the spectre of political violence in the country.

Interim President Moncef Marzouki tried to dispel these fears, vowing that October 23rd would be a day of joy and there is no need to stock up on supplies.

"In Europe, there are some who say that the world will come to end on December 22nd," Marzouki said in a television interview on October 19th. "This is nonsense and there is no reason to be afraid."

"The political atmosphere is very tense and all political entities are only thinking about seats rather than citizens' interests," Hadi, an employee, said. "This raises people's fears."

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