TUNISIA: ICON OF THE ARAB SPRING; BUDDING DEMOCRACY IN THE ARAB WORLD

Tunisia on the African Map

History

TUNISIA; Home to the ancient City of Carthage (Found in Tunis the Capital City of Tunisia Today) is Africa’s Northernmost Country a former French Colony since May 1881 until its Independence on March 1956. Its Independence came after a series of Negotiations that begun in 1952 between France and Tunisian Freedom Fighters led by Habib Borguiba and other Nationalists under the Neo Destour Party. Habib was at the Time of Independence serving as the Second Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tunisia under the French Protectorate.

A National Constituent Assembly formed on March 1956 to draft a Constitution for the New Republic of Tunisia elected Borguiba as its President on April 1956. The Neo Destour Party Leadership invited the Constituent Assembly Members for a Special Sitting on July 1957 and their Meeting officially Declared the Republic of Tunisia and Appointed Borguiba as the Acting President of the Republic of Tunisia a Position which was Legally Binded when Tunisia adopted its First Constitution on June 1959.

President Borguiba ruled the New Republic of Tunisia for 3 Decades until November 1987. Borguiba’s Health started ailing in early 1970’s and his Condition deteriorated in mid-1980’s when his Doctors declared him Mentally incapable of performing his duties. His New Prime Minister One General Ben Ali who he had just Appointed on October 1987 Ousted him from Office in a Bloodless Coup of November 1987 and took over immediately.

The New Military Head of State promised Reforms in Democracy and Governance but he never lived to the Promise. Although he introduced some Economic Reforms in Tunisia’s Economy,Ben Ali turned into a Dictator and ruled Tunisia for 24 Years until January 2011 when he was Ousted by Tunisians in Tunisian Revolution that began on December 2010 Ousting Ben Ali on January 2011. The Tunisian Revolution which began when a Jobless Graduate one Tarek Bouazizi who was working as a Vegetable Hawker immolated himself by dousing himself in Petrol and setting himself on Fire on December 17,2010 to Protest what many Tunisians felt epitomized Ben Ali’s Regime; Unemployment, Corruption, High Cost of Living, Oppression, Human Rights Abuse, Tyranny and Poor Governance. The Tunisian Revolution inspired what is now famously known as the Arab Spring where Arabs in Arab Countries in Africa and Middle East Revolted against Dictatorship deposing Long-serving Dictators notably Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak sweeping Across Middle East Countries.

Ben Ali and his Family managed to flee and went to Exile in Jeddah Saudi Arabia where they have been offered Asylum and Refuge up to Date. Ben Ali Died on September 19,2019 at a Hospital in Jeddah at the Age of 83.

Before fleeing Ben Ali had delegated his Powers to his Prime Minister one Mohammed Ghannouchi a Decision that was quashed by Tunisia’s Constitutional Court. The Court subsequently announced the Legal Transition where the then Speaker of Parliament one Fouad Mebazaa took over as Interim President awaiting Presidential Election in 60 Days.

Fouad Mebazaa governed Tunisia as its 3rd President between January 2011 to December 2011 when the ‘Tunisian Constituent Assembly’ Constituted on October 2011 to draft a New Constitution and Appoint a Transitional Government after the Revolution Appointed former Human Rights Activist and Ben Ali’s Critic one Moncef Marzouki  as the New Transitional President of Tunisia.

Marzouki governed Tunisia as its 4th President for Three Years between December 2011 to December 2014 when he lost to one of his Prime Minister one Beji Essebsi in Tunisia’s Historic First Ever Free and Fair Democratic Election of November-December 2014. President Marzouki is remembered for restoring Calm in Tunisia after the 2010 Revolution by lifting the State of Emergency and Instituting Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission.

The then 88-Years Old Historic First Democratically Elected 5th President of Tunisia Beji Essebsi was Sworn in on December 31, 2014. Essebsi ruled Tunisia for 4 Years and 7 Months until July 25, 2019 when he died in Hospital at the Age of 92 in what his Office said was a Serious Illness. Before his Death President Essebsi had already Announced that would not seek Reelection in 2019 Presidential Election saying Time had come for the Youth to Lead Tunisia. Essebsi will be remembered for his Passion and Quest for Equality and Equity between Men and Women in Tunisia which he Championed through Legal Amendments and Parliament Debates.

The Speaker of the ‘Assembly of Representatives’ one Mohammed Ennaceur took over as the Interim 6th President awaiting Presidential Election set for September 15,2019. Tunisia is Administered through a Parliamentary System of Government.

Tunisia’s Second Democratic Election

The September 15, 2019 Presidential Election saw a whopping 26 Candidates contesting for Tunisia’s Highest Office in the Country’s Second Democratic Election. Among them are Key Prominent Figures led by the Country’s Current Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi, former Prime Ministers Mehdi Jomaa and Hamadi Jebali, former Tunisia Transitional President Moncef Marzouki, Media Tycoon Nabil Karoui who is currently in detention facing Money Laundering and Tax Evasion Charges, Ennahda’s Abdelfattah Morou and Abir Morsi who is among the only Two Female Candidates in the Race.

This Election which saw a Poor Voter Turnout where only 45% of the 7 Million Registered Voters turned out to Vote has to the Surprise of many led to a Run-off Election set to be held on October 13,2019 between Two New Entrants in Politics;One Independent Candidate 61-years old former Law Professor Kais Saied who led with 18.4% followed by 56-years old Media Tycoon Nabil Karoui who came Second with 15.6% . This was a huge blow to the Country’s Political Establishment.None of the 26 Candidates in this Race managed to get a Clear-cut Win (a Simple Majority above 50% of Total Valid Votes) in this Round One Election hence the Two Top Contenders will have to battle it out in a Decisive Run-off that will determine the Winner who will then become Tunisia’s New President.Nabil Karoui who was in detention since late August was Freed from Jail on October 9,2019 by Tunisia’s High Court that annuled his detention Order.

This Run-off Election that saw Voter Turnout increase to 55% was Won by the modest 61-years old former Law Professor Kais Saied with a Landslide Victory of 72% against Nabil Karoui’s 27% .Mr.Nabil conceded defeat and congratulated the New President-elect Mr.Saied.

Mr.Saied largely seen as an Incorruptible social Conservative locally described as a “Robocop” for his Modesty Won the Hearts of Tunisians with an almost Zero-budget Campaign.His Anti-Political Elite approach helped him woo the Support of Tunisian Youths who Voted for him Massively.He thanked the Young People for turning a New Page and promised to build a New Tunisia for them and for all Tunisians.He pledged to Decentralise Power,Fight Corruption and fulfill the Aspirations of the 2011 Arab Revolution that began in Tunisia.

Mr.Kais Saied the New President of Tunisia

Tunisia’s 11.5 Million People who are 98% Arabs/Muslims are mainly dependent on Agriculture, Petroleum, Hydrocarbons and Metals Mining, Textiles, Tourism and Manufacturing as the main Economic Activities in the Country with Tunisian Dinar as the Country’s Currency.Tunisia’s GDP Currently stands at 40 Billion USD.

(Photos Courtesy)

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