How to read Tunisian scene after enforcement of Constitution's Article 80



Tue, 27 Jul 2021 - 11:24 GMT


Tue, 27 Jul 2021 - 11:24 GMT

Tunisian flag – Wikimedia Commons

Tunisian flag – Wikimedia Commons

CAIRO – 27 July 2021: In spite of holding power for a decade and seizing the opportunity to enhance the standard of living of Tunisians given the semi-presidential ruling system whereas the parliament forms the government, Al Nahda Movement failed miserably so as protests culminated into the enforcement of Article 80 of the constitution by President Qais Said freezing the work of the House of Representatives.  


Tunisia's Al Nahda Movement, formerly known as the Islamic Direction Movement, won the majority of seats in the parliamentary elections of 2011 and 2018, and came second in that of 2014. Also, its member Monsef Al Marzouqi was elected president in 2011 in the aftermath of the Arab Spring but his performance did not found resonance among the people.


As a result, late Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi from Nidaa Tunes – a secular party - was elected for office in 2014 succeeded by the incumbent president, who is independent, in 2019.  


It is noteworthy to mention that the Islamist movement became officially a political party after the 2011 revolution that toppled former Tunisian President Zein El Abdin Bin Ali.   


Researcher at the Economics Unit of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies (ECSS) Passant Gamal said in a phone-in that the Tunisian economic performance has been low on many levels, which was embodied in the rise of inflation, food prices, unemployment, public debt, external debt, and budget deficit.


Gamal underscored that the pre-requisite of any development endeavors is political stability and that has not been the case in the North African state.


Head of the Security and Defense Unit at the same center Dalal Mahmoud underlined that Al Nahda Movement was an example of power abuse, which was embodied in their moves to tailor legislations serving their interests and in hiring the relatives of its members in governmental bodies.


The same point was affirmed by former Tunisian Parliamentarian Fatma al-Masdy adding that those Islamists were only focusing on stealing the resources of Tunisia commending President Said for fulfilling the demands of the people.


Masdy highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic showcased that the failure in setting a strategy to handle the spread of infection and mitigate the economic impact is essentially a political failure. The former MP underscored that is the first time protesters demand the dismantling of the parliament, and not creating job opportunities or other demands pertinent to the standards of living.


The Tunisian former parliamentarian and Egyptian Expert in Arab Affairs Hamed Fares attributed this to a decade of failure by the governments formed by Al Nahda movement since the Arab Spring in 2011.


A number of Tunisian parties have also expressed support to the decision of President Said, including Afaq Tunis Party, and Al Takatol Al Tunisi Party.


On July 25 marking Tunisia's national day and where mass protests against the behavior of parliamentarians affiliated to Al Nahda Movement took place, President Said resorted to Article 80 of the constitution to freeze the work of the parliament. He also dismissed Prime Minister Hisham al-Mamshishy, and on the following day, made the ministers of justice, police, and defense resign.


In tandem, he stripped parliamentarians of immunity, which can be a first step for their prosecution later. Further, Said banned protests for five days, and suspended work at public institutions for two days, except for vital ones like those in the sector of security and healthcare. He also ordered an overnight curfew.


The protests in the capital were concentrated in the area surrounding the parliament among other cities, and suspending the parliament was their demand along with holding Speaker Rashed al-Ghanoushy and the government accountable for corruption.



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