Tired of corruption and poverty, the Tunisian people celebrated in July after the president overthrew North Africa by suspending parliament and ousting the government. But as many return to Kais Saied, those who have been mocked in recent weeks have spoken out.
At the country’s largest demonstrations since Saied’s rise to power, thousands of people marched through the streets of the capital Tunis over the weekend, demanding a “collapse of the government”.
At the heart of the recent protests was Saied’s announcement last week that he was ordering an order in the process of drafting amendments with the help of a select committee.
In addition, there are concerns about the growing independence and economic instability in the absence of a government in a country that for many years has been the only example of democracy in the Arab world since the 2010/11 riots. Several weak coalition governments have so far failed to address the economic woes that have fueled the transition.
Foreigner Saied was elected president in 2019. Businessmen and political leaders in the country were deeply concerned that it would [is] leading Tunisia to economic collapse ”, says Youssef Cherif, a political scientist who heads the Columbia Global Centers in Tunis.
Opponents this week have been particularly supportive of Nahda, a staunch Islamist group that has been a major party in the suspended rally and a key player in Tunisian politics since dictator Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali made the remarks in 2011, observers in Tunis said. They are also aided by well-known demonstrations of democracy.
Nahda, who is furious at what appears to be a financial failure over the past 10 years, is the one who has lost the most in what Saied did. But Saied’s criticism also stemmed from a strong alliance with 1 Tunisian member, Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT), which has warned he is giving too much power into his hands.
The president’s plan to amend the law without question was “dangerous to democracy”, the coalition said on Friday. It also called for the immediate establishment of a government to address the financial crisis.
“This alliance is not about defending democracy, but about defending its interests. If taxes are not paid their members are affected and if there is a dictatorship, they will not be able to negotiate to get complaints from the government, “Cherif said.
For now, the negative against Saied seems small. Many Tunisians have seen what they did as a rescue from ten years of unwise government and economic hardship. Saied’s anti-corruption ideas and his reputation as a law professor without a party of what made him famous: 85% of Tunisians admitted their actions, according to a July poll.
Their frustration with the elite is due to the economic crisis. The coronavirus epidemic contributed to an 8.2% reduction in all households by 2020. Economists estimate a 3.8% growth rate in 2021, making it likely that the economy will not start again this year. Unemployment reached 17.9% in the third quarter of 2021, according to the National Institute of Statistics, from 17.4% at the end of 2020. Government debt grew to 87% of GDP in 2020, according to the IMF.
But Saied, who has been charged with felony criminal mischief for firing on a sculpture with a shotgun, has not been able to justify his actions.
“It’s inevitable,” said Mohamed-Dhia Hammami, a Tunisian political scientist at Syracuse University. “Its main purpose is to change politics and to reform political institutions. But they are taking longer time, because they do not have a clear mind. ”
The President’s main goal in reducing inflation was to get businesses to reduce prices, Hammami said.
“He’s not interested in finance and he doesn’t understand its challenges and starting strategies,” he added. “As a legal expert, he is open to discussing legal issues and exaggerating the impact of these changes.”
Meanwhile negotiations on a key credit union with the IMF have stalled and cannot begin without the government. Economists say Tunisia may not be able to meet its debt, which includes $ 1bn coming in later this year.
“Finally, I hope that Tunisia needs to restructure its debt,” said James Swanston, an economist at Capital Economics, a London-based consultant. “A state of non-government means that debt-solving measures are not being met. Restructuring or modification is not possible. ”