Tunisia: National Dialogue resumes, goal is elections

Overheated political climate, Marzouki to speak to nation

18 April, 11:42

    Moncef Marzouki Moncef Marzouki

    (ANSAmed) - Tunis, April 18 - National Dialogue sessions resumed with Tunisian political entities on Thursday in Tunis. National Dialogue is a forum that includes the work of various committees according to a predetermined agenda by the Quartet (Tunisian UGTT labor union, the UTICA business and professional lobby, the Tunisia League for the Defense of Human Rights, and the Lawyers Guild), in consultation with representatives of the parties represented in the National Constituent Assembly, a tool that has the purpose of preventing conflicts and speeding up work in the meeting room, and has allowed the adoption of the Constitution and the formation of a technical government in a timely fashion.

    The final mission, after the definition of the fundamental laws including of course electoral law, is a call for new elections to happen later this year. Meanwhile, there are two issues that dominate the political scene these days: the financial crisis of state banks that veer toward a catastrophic situation, and the protests that followed the judgment of the Tunis' military court of appeals against officials responsible in relation to the shooting deaths of protesters during the fall of president Ben Ali, that had significantly reduced penalties placing many of the accused on probation. The verdict has naturally caused indignation from the families of the victims that has not resulted in violent demonstrations but have led citizens to question the meaning of the concepts of "separation of powers" and"judicial independence" as guaranteed by the Constitution.

    The President of the Republic Moncef Marzouki, in the past a defender of human rights, will speak on the topic with a message to the nation Friday. Everyone speaks and every political party seems to move as if it was already in the election campaign (but according to polls 50% Tunisians would not know who to vote for). The political landscape Tunisia is overcrowded but the parties that rely on large numbers are very few, such as Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes. The Islamist Ennahda movement is led by Sheikh Rached al-Ghannouchi, after having left power is embroiled in internal divisions and losses even as he works to portray a modern and democratic image. The second party, Nidaa Tounes, a pro-European secularist party founded by former prime minister Beji Caid Essebsi, is moving up in the polls. There are also other right- wing and centrist parties, and a group of leftists called Front Popular.

    The court sentence divided the parties: Ennahda criticized the conditions in which the process was carried out by casting strong doubts on the validity of the judgment, while Nidaa Tounes preferred to take a more detached position, warning victims' families from any exploitation.

    National Dialogue aims at reconciling these different views and positions, a method that has already yielded positive results. (ANSAmed).

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