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Once-banned party wins in Tunisia elections, early results show

Tunis, Tunisia (CNN) — Official results have yet to be published, but preliminary returns appear to show that the once-banned moderate Islamist party Ennahada has won Tunisia’s historic elections, according to several political parties and Tunisian media outlets.

The front page of El Maghreb newspaper showed a giant photo of Ennahada leader Rachid Ghanouchi next to a saluting member of the presidential guard, with the caption “Ennahada close to the government?”

Meanwhile, the French-language daily Le Temps depicted a presidential throne on a pillar carrying the Ennahada logo, followed by smaller chairs atop two smaller columns labeled with the secular parties Congres pour la Republique [CPR] and Ettakatol.

Representatives from all three parties told CNN their preliminary results show that Ennahada captured first place, followed by CPR and Ettakatol. The parties were already looking forward to the possibility of establishing a governing coalition in the future 217-seat Constituent Assembly.

“It’s possible… I hope we can put a coalition of this type together,” said CPR leader Montsuf Marzouki, when asked about the possibility of establishing a coalition of the three apparent front-runners.

Marzouki said Tunisians had demonstrated in the country’s first free election in modern history their vision for the future of the country.

“Tunisians want centrist politics,” he said. “They want an Arab-Muslim identity (Ennahada) and also democracy and human rights represented by the two parties CPR and Ettakatol,” Marzouki added.

As early Monday night, top Ennahada party officials were already celebrating CPR and Ettakatol’s expected second and third place finishes in the vote count.

“We’re happy that the second and third party are serious parties that never resorted to scare tactics,” said Moadh Kheriji, Ghanouchi’s chief of staff.

But the rise of a party closely identified with Islam sounded alarm bells for Tunisian secularists.

Tuesday afternoon, a group of about 200 protesters gathered outside the headquarters of Tunisia’s electoral commission to denounce the expected Ennahada victory.

Some carried signs saying “No to fraud.”

(www.cnn.com / 25.10.2011)

Al-Nahda claims victory in Tunisia poll

Moderate Islamist party says it has won more than 30 per cent of seats as PDP concedes it will be in opposition.
The moderate Islamist party al-Nahda has claimed that it has won more than 30 per cent of seats in Tunisia’s 217-member consitutent assembly, following the country’s historic election.

“The first confirmed results show that al-Nahda has obtained first place nationally and in most districts,” the party’s campaign manager, Abelhamid Jlassi, said at a news conference, citing al-Nahda’s own election observers’ reports.

The party’s claim came ahead of an announcement by the country’s independent election commission, in which it was to offcially declare partial results.

The leaders of two leftist parties, the Congress Party for the Republic (CPR) and Ettakol, said they were fighting for second place, while the leader of the centre-left Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) conceded defeat on Monday evening.

“Al-Nahda is certainly the majority, but there are two other democratic entities, Ettakatol and the CPR, who were weak at the start but now find themselves in the position to contribute to political life and usher a rational modernity in this Arab-Muslim country,” Khalil Zaouia, Ettakatol’s number two, said.

Samir Dilou, a member of al-Nahda’s political bureau, said that his party had won “not far from 40 per cent” of the vote.

“The trend is clear. The PDP is badly placed. It is the decision of the Tunisian people. I bow before their choice,” PDP leader Maya Jribi told the AFP news agency at her party’s headquarters in Tunis.

“We will be there to defend a modern, prosperous and moderate Tunisia,” she said, adding the PDP would “clearly be in opposition”.

‘Compromise’

Jlassi said that al-Nahda’s priority was to restore stability to Tunisia.

“We would like to reassure our trade and economic partners, and all actors and investors, we hope very soon to have stability and the right conditions for investment in Tunisia,” he said.

“The priorities for Tunisia are clear. They are stability, conditions for a dignified life and the building of democratic institutions in Tunisia. We are  open to anyone who shares these objectives. We are open to all forces without exception,” he said.

The election, held on Sunday, was the country’s first-ever democratic poll to choose an assembly to rewrite the constitution, nine months after former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled from power.

With an unexpectedly large number of ballot papers to count, it remained unclear when election officials planned to announce the results of the vote.

There was a huge turnout as voters exercised their rights to choose the 217-seat assembly, which will also choose a new interim government and set dates for parliamentary and presidential elections.

Boubaker Bethabet, the secretary-general of the independent ISIE polling commission, said 90 per cent of the estimated 4.1 million citizens who registered ahead of the poll cast their votes.

No figures were available for the other 3.1 million voters who did not pre-register but also had the right to vote, as facilities for registration existed at most polling stations.

Al-Nahda, citing its own, unofficial tally from votes cast by the large Tunisian diaspora, said indications were that it had done well. Overseas voting was held days before Sunday’s election.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Zied Mhirsi, a prominent Tunisian blogger, said: “It is clear al-Nahda has a majority, the question is to what extent? Will they be the only ones forming a government?

“Every party is basically trying to see to what extent they can compromise with al-Nahda to organise a government.

“I don’t expect our revolution to become an Islamic Revolution but, at the same time, I expect Islam to be a part of Tunisian life, the way you could see it in Turkey.

“Al-Nahda has already shown a commitment to the declarations on human rights.”

Queues before dawn

Long lines of people had formed at polling stations before dawn on Sunday, growing into winding queues of voters keen to take part in the country’s first electoral contest without a pre-determined result.

More than 11,000 candidates ran in the election, representing 80 political parties. Several thousand candidates ran as independents.

The electoral system was designed to include as many parties as possible in drafting the new constitution, which is expected to take a year, ahead of fresh elections.

Sunday’s vote drew praise internationally, with US President Barack Obama saying that Tunisia’s revolution had “changed the course of history”.

“Just as so many Tunisian citizens protested peacefully in streets and squares to claim their rights, today they stood in lines and cast their votes to determine their own future,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

The EU also hailed the elections and vowed support for the new authorities.

‘Victory for dignity’

The mother of Mohamed Bouazizi, the young vegetable seller whose self-immolation last December set of the Tunisian revolt, said that the elections were a victory for dignity and freedom.

“Now I am happy that my son’s death has given the chance to get beyond fear and injustice,” Manoubia Bouazizi told the Reuters news agency. I’m an optimist, I wish success for my country.”

In depth coverage of first Arab Spring
vote

Ahmed Néjib Chebbi, the founder of the PDP, a centre-left political party,
came to vote in Tahrir Mhiri, La Marsa.

“This is a celebration of democracy,” he told Al Jazeera. “People are here to
exercise their duties as citizens, and they are showing that they deserve the
rights which they have been deprived of for decades.”

Concerning the heckling of al-Nahda leader Rachid Ghannouchiand his
family after they cast their votes at El Menzah 6 this morning, Nejib Chebbi
said it was “regrettable” that the leader of al-Nahda had been treated in this
way.

“No matter what his political ideas might be, Mr. Ghannouchi is a Tunisian
citizen who deserves respect. Today is not a day for protest,” he said.

(english.aljazeera.net/ / 24.12.2011)

Large turnout in Tunisia’s Arab Spring election

TUNIS: Tunisian voters poured into a polling stations to vote on Sunday in their country’s first free election, 10 months after a vegetable seller set fire to himself in an act of protest that started the Arab Spring uprisings.

The leader of an Islamist party predicted to win the biggest share of the vote was heckled outside a polling station by people shouting “terrorist” — highlighting tensions between Islamists and secularists that are also being felt in other countries touched by the Arab Spring.

Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation, prompted by his despair at poverty and government repression, provoked mass protests which forced President Zine Al-Abidine to flee Tunisia. This in turn inspired revolts in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria.

Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the moderately Islamist Ennahda party, took his place in the queue outside a polling station in the El Menzah 6 district of the capital.

“This is an historic day,” he said, accompanied by his wife and daughter, who were both wearing hijabs, or Islamic headscarves. “Tunisia was born today. The Arab Spring was born today.”

But as he emerged from the polling station, about a dozen people shouted at him: “Degage” French for “Go away” and “You are a terrorist and an assassin! Go back to London!”

Ghannouchi, who spent 22 years in exile in Britain, has associated his party with the moderate Islamism of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. He has said he will not try to impose Muslim values on society.

But the party’s rise is worrying Tunisia’s secularists who believe their country’s liberal, modernist traditions are now under threat.

Across Tunisia, queues stretching hundreds of meters formed outside polling stations from early in the morning.

This level of voter interest was never seen during Ben Ali’s rule, when only a trickle of people turned out for elections because they knew the result was predetermined.

“This is the first time I have voted,” said Karima Ben Salem, 45, at a polling station in the Lafayette area of central Tunis.

“I’ve asked the boys to make their own lunch. I don’t care … Today I am not on duty. Or rather, I am on duty for my country,” she said.

Sunday’s vote is for an assembly that will draft a new constitution to replace the one Ben Ali manipulated to entrench his power. It will also appoint an interim government and set elections for a new president and parliament.

Most forecasts are that Ennahda will not have enough seats for a majority in the assembly, forcing it to seek a coalition which will dilute the Islamist influence.

The Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), which is leading the challenge to Ennahda dominance, has campaigned on a platform of protecting Tunisia’s secular values.

Najib Chebbi, a former anti-Ben Ali dissident and PDP leader, stood in the queue outside a polling station in the Al Marsa district, chatting to other voters.

“I will wait my turn, even if it takes all day. That is democracy,” he told Reuters. “This is Tunisia’s happiest day. It is a celebration for democracy. Today Tunisia has joined the ranks of the advanced countries.

“It is very moving to see all these people who are waiting their turn to vote,” he said.

 

Contradictions

Ennahda has been at pains to assuage the concerns of secularists and Western powers, fielding several women candidates including one who does not wear the hijab and promising not to undermine women’s freedoms.

But fundamentalist Salafist Islamists have attacked a cinema and a TV station in recent months over artistic material deemed blasphemous. Ennahda says they have nothing to do with them, but liberals do not believe them.

Observers says Ennahda’s long-term intentions are not clear. Its election campaign has avoided offering policy details that mark it out as much different from its rivals.

At a final election rally on Friday, Suad Abdel-Rahim, the female candidate who does not wear a veil, said Ennahda would protect women’s equality.

But illustrating the party’s contradictions, many books on sale on the fringes of the rally were by Salafist writers who believe women should be segregated from men in public and that elections are un-Islamic.

An Ennahda victory would be the first such success in the Arab world since Hamas won a 2006 Palestinian vote. Islamists won a 1991 election in Algeria, Tunisia’s neighbor. The army annulled the result, provoking years of conflict.

Ennahda’s fortunes could have a bearing on Egyptian elections set for next month in which the Muslim Brotherhood, an ideological ally, also hopes to emerge strongest.

Libya hopes to hold elections next year after a protest movement that transformed into an armed rebellion managed, with NATO backing, to oust Muammar Qaddafi. Unresolved violent conflict continues in Syria and Yemen, and many other governments have begun reforms to avoid civil unrest.

With so much at stake in Tunisia, there are concerns that even the smallest doubt over the legitimacy of the vote could bring supporters of rival parties onto the streets.

The government says 40,000 police and soldiers are being deployed to prevent any protests escalating into violence. Shopkeepers say people have been stockpiling milk and bottled water in case unrest disrupts supplies.

(arabnews.com / 23.10.2011)

Tunisia historic elections under way

Tunisia’s first true multiparty elections is underway with thousands casting their ballots with a mixture of pride, hope and trepidation

Tunis: Tunisia’s first true multiparty elections is underway with thousands casting their ballots with a mixture of pride, hope and trepidation minutes after the polling stations opened throughout the country at 7 am local time.

In Monastir, a coastal resort, a long lineup of early voters snaked the corridor of a high school, one of several voting locales in the city, the birthplace of Habib Bourguiba, Tunisia’s first president, under the watchful eyes of four armed servicemen and servicewomen from the Tunisian army.

Women observers

Inside the voting hall, two women observers were taking notes as each voter was carefully checked by the panel overseeing the elections before being allowed to dip his or her finger in the blue ink to help foil any possible attempt to rig the elections.

Representatives from the various parties were also monitoring the progress of the voting process.

It was a radical change from the times when elections in Tunisia were a carefully orchestrated affair and results were known before the process started.

Constituent assembly to be elected

The elections to choose the 217 members of the constituent assembly who will write the country’s new constitution is the first major step towards full constitutional legitimacy in Tunisia after the downfall of its former leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14.

“We feel so vindicated after so many years of frustration,” Nizar said not far from the elections locale.

“The West has always thought that Arabs cannot and will not appreciate democracy or connect with any form of true elections. Today, we are proving them and every other skeptical person that they are wrong,” he said with a wide grin on his elated face. Ennahdha, the moderate Islamist party, has been given as a clear winner, but officials said that everybody will have to wait until the final results are announced.

Online reports that Ennahdha was leading in the vote count of the expatriates’ ballots was on Saturday evening denied by the commission overseeing the elections as “baseless allegations.”

Tunisians living abroad voted on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, ahead of the homeland, to elect 18 representatives at the constituent assembly.

The final results are expected late on Monday.

(gulfnews.com / 23.10.2011)

Tunisians gear up for historic vote

TUNIS (AFP) — Tunisian voters weighed their choices Saturday on the eve of the Arab Spring’s historic first election nine months after the toppling of strongman Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

“I am so happy to be voting tomorrow, to be able for the first time to exercise my choice,” Neda Kouki, 37, told AFP on the streets of Tunis.

“I get goose bumps just thinking about it,” she added, pulling up her sleeve and showing her forearm as proof.

With many voters undecided to the end, elections chief Kamel Jendoubi declared his ISIE polling commission “ready and confident”.

“We are happy, we are excited, we want the elections to succeed,” he told journalists with 18 hours to go before the first-ever democratic contest in a country where the outcome of polls used to be a foregone conclusion.

Jendoubi urged the current, interim government, however, not to interfere or risk jeopardizing the election’s credibility.

He was reacting to a statement by a foreign ministry official, which he said had created the impression the ministry rather than the ISIE was “running the election”.

“The only organization that has the authority to issue information about voting is the high commission for elections and no-one else,” the elections chief said.

“If any representative of the government intervenes, that could jeopardize the credibility of this election.”

The Islamist Ennahda party is tipped to win the biggest bloc of ballots in Sunday’s polls in which 7.2 million eligible voters are called to elect a 217-member assembly that will rewrite the constitution.

It will also have the loaded task of appointing an interim president and a caretaker government that will remain in place for the duration of the drafting process, expected to take a year.

“There are too many parties,” said Hishem Jmel, 47, an unemployed, undecided voter. But he stressed that casting his ballot was nevertheless “a duty, for a better future”.

Voters can choose from some 11,000 candidates representing 80 political parties and thousands of independents.

Mohamed Ben Salah, is one of the thousands of Tunisians who took to the streets in December and January in leaderless protests against corruption, poverty and unemployment that forced Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia.

“I am 30 years old, but I have no work, no wife, no car, no house. I will be voting for freedom and for jobs,” he said.

The European Union observer mission said the campaigning, which ended on Friday had been calm and disciplined.

“There is almost no chance of cheating or falsifying results, as the processes are transparent,” mission head Michael Gahler told AFP. “If everything goes as expected, we will have a credible result.”

ISIE official Mohamed Fadhel Mahfoudhn said all polling stations would have their ballot papers by the end of Saturday.

And Jendoubi added: “As far as security is concerned I think things are going the right way. There is a lot of vigilance.”

Ennahda had warned on Wednesday of a risk of vote rigging. It vowed a fresh uprising if it detected fraud.

But party leader Rached Ghannouchi stressed at a final rally Friday Ennahda “will recognize the results of the elections, we will congratulate the winners, no matter Ennahda’s score.”

The party had been banned and Ghannouchi exiled under Ben Ali, whose overthrow sparked region-wide uprisings that claimed their latest victim Thursday with the killing of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.

Tunisia’s historic polls will coincide with an official Libyan declaration of “liberation” from dictatorship.

The new constituent assembly will have to address such crucial issues as the form of the new government system and guarantees of basic rights, including gender equality, which many fear Ennahda would seek to diminish.

Claiming to model itself on Muslim Turkey’s secular state, Ennahda has sought to reassure the electorate by promising not to curb women’s rights, widely considered the most liberal in the Arab world.

The progressive left remains divided, having failed to agree on a pre-poll coalition.

The stakes are high. The success or failure of the election will send a strong signal to the people of the Arab world who drew courage from Tunisia’s revolutionary example to start their own uprisings.

“It is a dream come true,” said 65-year-old pensioner Mustapha Bensmail, who recalled how under Ben Ali “people looked over your shoulder as you made your cross.

“For the first time we will see Tunisians voting in liberty.”

Final election results are expected Monday.

(www.maannews.net / 22.10.2011)

Tunisians abroad vote in first Arab Spring election

PARIS (AFP) — Tunisians abroad thronged to vote Thursday in the first post-Arab Spring free election, three days before their compatriots at home go to the polls to turn the page on 23 years of autocratic rule.

Like many who voted on Thursday, historic opposition figure Kamel Jendoubi, who heads the overall election organizing body ISIE, was tearful as he voted at a consulate in Paris.

“I dreamt of this day, I couldn’t imagine but now I’m living it!” he said. “If we came here a few months ago, a few years ago, we’d simply be thrown out, it wasn’t our house.”

Expat Tunisians choose 18 of the 217 members of the constituent assembly, voting until Saturday in six “constituencies”: two in France, one in Italy, one in Germany, one in North America and one for other Arab nations.

Tunisians living in former colonial ruler France will elect 10 of these 18 seats, in an assembly that will be tasked with drafting a new constitution.

(www.maannews.net / 20.10.2011)

LA RUE DE TUNIS REPREND EN CŒUR : « ARRETEZ LE GENOCIDE DU PEUPLE DE SYRTE EN LIBYE »

ALGERIA ISP / Nous avons reçu cet article d’un groupe Tunisien solidaire de
la GREEN LIBYA

Récit d’une après-midi historique à Tunis : une immense
joie après une petite déception…

LA RUE DE TUNIS REPREND EN CŒUR : « ARRETEZ LE GENOCIDE DU PEUPLE DE SYRTE EN
LIBYE » et « ARRETEZ LE BOMBARDEMENT CONTINU DES VILLES ET VILLAGES LIBYENS
DEPUIS 7 MOIS ! » et « NATO (OTAN), DEGAGE DE LIBYE !

Lieu : Siège du Croissant Rouge Tunisien – 19, rue d’Angleterre. Date : 7 octobre 2011.

Autisme…

Las société tunisienne était soudain devenue autiste : « il n’y a que la Tunisie qui m’intéresse » répètent à l’envi la majorité des citoyens de ce pays. Une centaines de partis politiques sont en course pour les élections du 23 octobre sans faire d’allusion directe à ce qui est devenu, de fait, un nouvel Irak à leur porte. Les médias locaux singent leurs homologues français, européens, nord-américains ou, ce qui revient au même, Al-Jazeera : voir à ce sujet le bulletin d’information télévisé de 20h (qui a remplacé celui de « l’ancien régime ») dans lequel un couple (un homme, une femme) de présentateurs commentent et censurent allègrement l’« actualité » en s’échangeant de stupides sourires.

La conséquence d’un tel silence a été l’absence stupéfiante, dans la capitale même, de manifestations dénonçant l’agression militaire contre la Libye en cours depuis près de 7 mois. Dans ce contexte, nous avons récemment salué la position courageuse des pays de l’ALBA (Alliance Bolivarienne pour les Peuples de Notre Amérique, regourpant le Nicaragua, le Venezuela, Cuba, l’Ecuador et la Bolivie) en envoyant une télécopie à leurs missions respectives à New York (ONU). Si nous avons certainement été heureux de recevoir de leur part une lettre de soutien, il faut avouer que nous avons été déçus par la position de l’ambassadeur de Cuba à Tunis que nous avons souhaité rencontrer à plusieurs reprises, dont la dernière en date du 5 octobre 2011. Le secrétaire (tunisien) de l’ambassade nous a dit que le diplomate considérait la guerre en Libye comme un événement qui ne le concernait pas et a clairement refusé de nous recevoir, ne serait-ce que quelques minutes. Il s’agit donc là de notre « petite déception ».

Aujourd’hui, samedi 8 octobre, il nous semble important de proposer un récit de cette après-midi historique d’hier à Tunis où l’on a vu une foule massée dans une des rues du centre-ville de la capitale tunisienne, quadrillées par des policiers (en uniforme et en civil) et parsemées de barbelés, chars et autres engins (entre l’ambassade de France et le Ministère de l’Intérieur), reprendre des slogans tels que : « NATO [OTAN], Dégage min [de] Libya ! »(désormais imprimé sur le béton des infrastructures autoroutières tunisiennes » et « Sirt tastagith ! » (la ville de Syrte appelle au secours !). Syrte se trouve sous le feu aérien et maritime de l’OTAN et celui, à terre, de ses rebelles mercenaires lesquels bombardent au hasard de leurs missiles « Grad » les hôpitaux et la population sous embargo total.

Des plaques d’immatriculation devenues « gênantes »…

Le silence en Tunisie est plus complice qu’ailleurs car ce pays constitue une pièce-clé dans le dispositif impérialiste en place dans la région. Sans lui, les bombardements auraient cessé depuis longtemps en raison de la proximité géographique, la parenté (y compris linguistique car la langue vernaculaire libyenne est la plus proche de celle des Tunisiens), sans parler des centaines de milliers de réfugiés répartis dans tout le pays maintenant. Ces derniers sont particulièrement repérables dans les villes par leurs grandes voitures dont la plaque d’immatriculation indique « Jamahiriya  (Gouvernement des masses) et que les rebelles de l’OTAN couvrent systématiquement d’une étiquette avec les couleurs du drapeau du régime réactionnaire monarchiste d’avant la révolution
pacifique dirigée par Gaddafi en Septembre 1969 (Al-Fateh).

Pour cette raison nous, Tunisiennes et Tunisiens libres, devenus militants pacifistes anti-guerre malgré nous (à quoi servent donc les institutions officielles existantes, la « société civile », etc. si elle se taisent toutes devant ce qui se passe dans le pays voisin ?) avons décidé de briser le silence criminel au sujet de la Libye : à commencer par celui des médias tels qu’Al-Jazeera, la BBC, la télévision et la radio nationales tunisiennes et la presse écrite de ce pays à une ou deux rares exceptions près (Ar-Risala At-tounisiya (La Lettre de Tunisie), entre autres).

Les médias présentent ainsi la situation de la ville de Syrte (entre 100 et 150 000 habitants selon les sources et dont seulement quelques dizaines ou centaines de familles ont récemment fui les bombardements) comme celle d’une « poche de résistance » que les rebelles du « Conseil National de Transition » (CNT, imposé et protégé depuis le ciel par l’OTAN, nuit et jour depuis environ 7 mois) s’apprêteraient à ««libérer»»(de qui et de quoi?) « dans les heures qui viennent » ou les jours qui viennent » suivant le degré d’impatience de leurs responsables…

En fait, en raison de ce lavage collectif et mondialisé de cerveaux jamais égalé dans l’histoire (en ce sens, Al-Jazeera a gagné sa guerre jusqu’à présent), les Tunisiens –qui disent soutenir les « révolutionnaires » (i.e. de l’OTAN) ignorent tout de la réalité. Non seulement beaucoup d’entre eux ne savent-ils même pas localiser les nombreuses localités du pays où une résistance acharnée a rapidement émergé (en dépit des bombardements incessants de l’OTAN depuis 7 mois) mais encore ignorent-ils qu’une grande partie (en surface et en population) du pays (90% selon certaines sources) soutient de fait le gouvernement légal et le régime correspondant (Jamahiriya) sous lequel ses habitants vivaient en paix et dans la prospérité économique depuis 42 ans
jusqu’à l’irruption, en février dernier, de bandes armées couvertes et dirigées depuis le ciel par l’OTAN auxquelles se joints des supplétifs importés d’Afghanistan et du Pakistan par la CIA.

Joie immense…

Nous avions appelé la veille et le matin-même de l’événement les Tunisiennes et les Tunisiens libres (du lavage collectif et mondialisé de cerveaux) à cette protestation pacifique (I’tisam silmy, en arabe) via la seule chaîne de télévision alternative dans le monde arabe : ARRAI (souvent brouillée soit, pensons-nous, par l’OTAN ou le gouvernement tunisien ou les deux). En raison de la censure et de l’auto-censure (censure intériorisée), nous nous attendions à trouver seulement un individu ou deux. Or, une fois arrivés sur place, nous n’en crûmes pas nos yeux. Au portail du Croissant Rouge Tunisien, une masse de gens (dont de nombreuses femmes de tous âges) se bousculaient et discutaient avec une employée qui avait entrouvert la porte et qui expliquait qu’il n’était pas possible de rencontrer le directeur maintenant ; qu’il faudrait essayer un autre jour.

Nous réalisions soudain que tous ces gens avaient répondu à notre appel. Une dame algérienne arriva alors et s’exprima dans les mêmes termes étonnés que nous. Un médecin présent travaillant pour le centre en question s’évertuait à expliquer la position «neutre» de son organisation en renvoyant les manifestants soit vers Amnesty International soit ver la Croix-Rouge. C’est aberrant, lui répliqua-ton, puisque la première organisation a montré, s’agissant de ces événements uniques dans l’histoire de l’humanité, qu’elle était littéralement devenue Amnesia International. Quant à la seconde, elle est systématiquement bloquée par les rebelles de l’OTAN. Nous luis avons alors proposé d’expliquer clairement dans les médias pourquoi le Croissant Rouge Tunisien n’intervient pas à Syrte ; à savoir que les «révolutionnaires» l’en empêchent. Il ne répliqua pas.

La manifestation avait été improvisée en raison de l’urgence de la situation de famine et de détresse à Syrte où les hôpitaux sont bombardés par l’OTAN et ses rebelles armés. Devant le siège du Croissant Rouge, de plus en plus de « curieux » se regroupaient, à l’image des événements de janvier qui avaient poussé le président de la république à fuir du pays face la contestation grandissante. La plupart des passants étaient surpris d’apprendre que de telles choses avaient lieu en ce moment-même et dans le pays voisin (effet du lavage collectif et mondialisé de cerveaux par les médias étouffant toute voix dissidente). Ils se mirent souvent à sympathiser. L’ambiance devenait bon enfant, notamment avec les élèves de l’école d’en face qui reprenaient en cœur nos slogans pacifistes. Des Libyennes, enveloppés dans du tissu vert qui venait d’être acheté dans une échoppe du quartier, nous avaient rejoints et lancèrent aussi le fameux slogan de ralliement de la résistance sur le terrain: « Dieu, Muammar, la Libye et basta ya! » Les gens discutaient de toutes parts. Les appareils photographiques se levaient ça et là comme des parapluies à l’apparition d’une averse. Une centaine de personnes composait alors le rassemblement et les slogans retentissaient dans tout le quartier de la rue d’Angleterre….

Provocations (policières)…

Dès le tout début du rassemblement pacifique, un ivrogne intervint dans un but évident de semer la confusion, notamment quand il tenta d’ameuter des gens du quartier en lançant : « Venez voir, c’est incroyable ; ils manifestent non pas pour (des affaires en rapport avec) la Tunisie mais pour autre chose !». Nous avons tenté de le « calmer » un peu et notre ruse a fonctionné un moment étant donné son état. Cependant, son intention était claire dès le début : semer la confusion afin de justifier l’intervention de la police. Nous pensons donc qu’il s’agissait d’un agent de cette dernière. Un indice en est qu’il ne figurait pas parmi les individus arrêtés par la suite (y compris des vendeurs de
cigarettes ambulants…) et emmenés manu militari au commissariat de police.

D’ailleurs, à un moment donné, un partisan des rebelles de l’OTAN, brandissant un grand drapeau du régime réactionnaire monarchiste d’avant la Jamahiria, vint s’installer en hauteur sous les fenêtres de l’immeuble du Croisant Rouge. Il fut vite hué et pris à partie par les manifestants. Là encore, l’ivrogne-indicateur intervint afin qu’il demeure à sa place et poursuive sa provocation. Cependant, il fut bien obligé de décamper comme un « rat » et fut qualifié comme tel par la foule en colère. En effet, ces gens se comportent comme si ils étaient chez eux, partout en Tunisie, à tel point que les réfugiés loyalistes au gouvernement légal de la Jamahiriya font-ils désormais profil bas tant ils sont victimes d’ostracisme de la part des Tunisiens eux-mêmes (ce qui n’était étrangement pas le cas avant les bombardements de l’OTAN). Cela dit, on peut supposer que le « rat » était également un indicateur de police. La mise en scène de l’intervention musclée et « justifiée » de la police (bien qu’il n’y ait eu aucun coup très violent porté) aurait ainsi réussi.

« En voiture » vers le commissariat avec les « Baltagia » de la police locale…

Les Baltagia (pluriel de Baltagi), ce sont les « gros bras », hommes de main (« thugs » en anglais ; à l’image de ces hommes armés de matraques embarqués à bord de chameaux et faisant leur apparition sur la place Tahrir au Caire lors des rassemblements de masse). Des hommes armés de bâtons ont soudain interpelé
nombre d’entre nous puis nous ont embarqués à bord de leur véhicule anonyme.
L’un des hommes de main s’était pourtant approché durant le rassemblement et nous n’avions pas réalisé que c’était aussi un policier en civil. Nous n’avions pas compris pourquoi il chuchota à nos oreilles: « Yezzi Tawa »(Ça suffit maintenant). S’il nous avait dit « La police (dont je suis) vous conseille de mettre un terme à la manifestation », nous aurions sûrement mieux saisi son intention.

Dans la voiture, les Baltagia nous étranglaient avec leurs gros bras et leur chef (ressemblant étrangement à Iyad Alaoui, président marionnette de l’Irak occupé il y a quelques années et individu de triste augure) brandissait un gros bâton nu et nous crûmes réellement qu’ils allaient nous casser les os, notamment quand ils commencèrent à nous donner des coups mesurés (ils semblaient se retenir sachant que les piétons dans les rues embouteillées nous observaient) et quand ils nous jetèrent dans une pièce d’interrogatoire du commissariat de police. Ils avaient également arrêté de simples passants qui prenaient des photos de l’événement avec leur téléphone portatif. Ils les effrayaient en consultant leur album enregistré dans la mémoire de l’appareil. Ils demandèrent à qui appartenaient les drapeaux verts de la manifestation et systématiquement : « Tu es Tunisien, toi ? » probablement afin d’expulser d’éventuels Libyens interpellés, ce qui serait un crime compte-tenu du caractère vindicatif des marionnettes de l’OTAN qui « gouvernent » actuellement à Tripoli. Il ajouta : « Et regardez celui-là » qui porte (tout à fait par hasard et sans y avoir pensé un seul moment) une chemise de couleur verte (foncée)…

Ou encore : « Tu es avec les « révolutionnaires » (i.e. de l’OTAN) ou « avec Gaddafi ? ». Le chef des hommes de main (qui, dans la voiture, insultait aussi le chauffeur d’un véhicule nous précédant, simplement parce que le logo Jamahiriya de sa plaque d’immatriculation libyenne n’était pas recouvert de l‘étiquette du drapeau des rebelles de l’OTAN) nous martelait : « On va s’occuper de vous comme il faut ; Pourquoi venez-vous ici semer la confusion ? Allez donc combattre en Libye ! ». Comme si c’était (à supposer que nous ayons eu des tendances ou même un minimum de formation « militaires ») si facile avec un gouvernement complice de la menée impérialiste contre ce pays et des voies d’accès (poste frontalier de Ras-l-Jdir en particulier) hyper contrôlé du côté tunisien avant même qu’il ne soit repris, du côté libyen, par les rebelles de l’OTAN. Et puis, est-ce une réponse acceptable de la part d’un fonctionnaire de police, d’un « agent de la paix » dans un Etat devenu soi-disant « démocratique » ?

Bref, pour nous, ce fut aussi la confirmation –s’il en fallait une- que le régime ancien et son système sécuritaire, tant honni, n’a changé qu’en surface.

L’ironie de l’Histoire…

Nous fûmes relâchés après plusieurs heures, les uns après les autres après des séances de torture psychologique. En fait, et on peut s’en réjouir, la torture physique (il n’y eut dans notre cas que des « petits coups » avec leurs énormes bâtons et des menaces sérieuses de coups très violents) semble désormais révolue en raison de la « révolution »… et de la surveillance internationale du pays par de nombreux observateurs internationaux, dont les Etats finançant, de manière directe ou indirecte, le « processus démocratique » et l’« Etat de droit ». Ils prirent nos coordonnées. Nous avons alors demandé au chef du commissariat pourquoi nous avions été arrêtés et pourquoi toutes ces arrestations avaient-elles eu lieu alors que nous ne représentions aucun parti (grand ou petit) mais que nous étions de simples citoyens (dont une majorité de femmes) révulsés par le silence complice. Il nous répondit, gêné, que la police cherchait « à nous protéger »…. et après avoir évoqué avec lui notre souhait de
continuer, il nous rappela qu’il nous incombait de déposer une demande officielle au ministère de l’intérieur, ce que nous ferons mais sans grand espoir tant ce sujet est probablement l’un des plus sensibles en Tunisie…

En sortant du commissariat, l’Histoire nous fit un clin d’œil ironique. Non seulement l’établissement se trouve-il rue Charles de Gaulle (donc du même nom que le porte-avions assassin utilisé contre la Libye) mais, encore, l’hôtel d’en face se nomme-t-il « Cirta » (la ville de Syrte)… Et pour comble, ce dernier est situé au numéro 42 (c’est-à-dire l’âge même de la Jamahiriya libyenne) de la même rue…

Conclusion…

Nous avions réussi à appeler une avocate pour l’enjoindre de venir au commissariat. Elle n’arriva près des lieux que lorsque nous étions déjà sortis. Nous la rencontrâmes sur l’artère principale du centre ville (avenue Bourguiba). Sans nous en rendre compte, nous nous sommes alors retrouvés dans la mire des canons stationnés devant l’ambassade de France, sous le regard de la statue du sociologue historien Ibn Khaldoun et dans le champ des oreilles indiscrètes du Christ derrière le mur de la haute cathédrale qui la surplombe. Nous avons discuté avec l’avocate et son mari de ce qui nous était arrivés.

Avec tristesse, nous avons constaté que tous deux partageaient en fait le point de vue « classique » des médias de l’OTAN (voir novlangue NATO Media Advisory) et du gouvernement tunisien… Cela est vrai aussi pour les ««élites intellectuelles»» du monde entier en général et de Tunisie en particulier (voir l’analyse rétrospective de Toni Solo intitulé « Illustrious Corspses » à propos de gens aussi «respectables» qu’Immanuel Wallerstein, Rico Alba, Ignacio Ramonet (Le Monde Diplomatique), Gilbert Achkar, etc.). Doit-on aussi rappeler que le « Tribunal Pénal International » a lui-même été utilisé comme une marionnette de l’OTAN et de ses agents du CNT ?

Merci encore à tous les esprits libres, tunisiens ou non, qui ont répondu à l’appel à cette protestation pacifique : en particulier à Mohamed, Radia, Usama, Dalila, Benhassen et d’autres dont nous avons oublié les noms…

(www.mathaba.net / 16.10.2011)

European parliamentary assembly to monitor Tunisian polls

A delegation of 20 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will monitor Tunisia’s election on Oct. 23, the pan-European organization announced Friday.

They will join observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as well as the European Union for the historic poll, which is the North African country’s first free vote in more than two decades.

On Oct. 23, Tunisians will be voting for a constituent assembly after a transitional period following the toppling of the 23-year dictatorial regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled on Jan. 14.

The members of the PACE delegation, which will be led by Andreas Gross of Switzerland, will meet Foreign Minister Mohamed Mouldi Kefi, Education Minister Taieb Baccouche and Equality Minister Lilia Laabid, as well as representatives of political parties, the statement said.

During their stay, from Oct. 20 to Oct. 24, they will also have talks with Yadh Ben Achour, the chairman of the High Commission for the Fulfillment of Revolutionary Goals and the chairman of the Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE) Kamel Jendoubi.

They will also meet representatives of non-governmental organizations and the media, before being deployed throughout the country to observe the conduct of the ballot.

A pre-electoral delegation of the PACE went to Tunis on Sept. 15 and 16 and reported back on the “considerable efforts” deployed to organize the poll for the new parliament, which will draw up a new constitution for the country.

“Despite the delay in drawing up voter lists, concerns over the organization of voting for citizens living abroad and the possible risk of tensions during the electoral campaign, the delegation noted with satisfaction that the Tunisian authorities had swiftly devised a legal framework for organizing pluralist elections,” the PACE statement said.

(english.alarabiya.net / 15.10.2011)

Ennahda Prepares For Upcoming Elections In Tunisia

ennahdaPhoto: Magharebia (flickr)

“We are a party that can find a balance between modernity and Islam,” Ghannouchi said.

Tunisia is gearing up for their first free elections since the fall of former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Some think Islamist group Ennahda is proving the label “Islamist” doesn’t equal “hardline.”

Leader of Ennahda Rachid Ghannouchi was exiled from the country during Ben Ali’s reign, but returned after he was overthrown.

“Ben Ali did everything he could to convince the West that we are a terrorist group but he couldn’t do it,” he said.

Of the over 100 political parties expected to participate in the October 23 elections, Ennahda has the largest support group.

Ghannounchi stressed freedom for women and a commitment to modernity under an Ennahda-helmed government. He has many women on his staff, and compares tourist policies to that of Turkey.

He pointed to his time in Europe as to how he would deal with relations with the West.

“We will maintain the relations with our traditional partners such as Europe, but we will seek to improve them in order to get advanced status,” he said.

(muslimvoices.org / 04.10.2011)

Tunisians protest against Israel ties

TUNIS — Around 600 people rallied in Tunis Sunday threatening to out leaders believed to support normalisation of diplomatic ties with Israel.

“Death to all Tunisians attempting to normalise relations with Israel,” said Ahmed Kahlaoui, who chairs a committee opposing the restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

“We will denounce them and publish their names,” he said, speaking at a meeting organised at a conference hall in the Tunisian capital and attended by hundreds of people, some of them waving anti-Israeli banners.

Earlier this month, the authority in charge of political reform following the January ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years of dictatorial rule adopted a “republican pact” meant to form the basis of a new constitution.

It rules out a normalisation of ties with Israel but some members of the commission that drafted the text were reportedly in favour of leaving the issue out of the document.

“We can no longer trust this body’s members, which includes academics who support normalisation with Israel and have had ties themselves” with the Jewish state, Kahlaoui said.

Songs, dances and poems were performed during the meeting and Tunisians veterans who took part in the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict gave testimonies.

The meeting was mainly attended by pan-Arab nationalist political groups and NGOs but the Islamist Ennahda party was not represented.

After several years of warming ties, the Israeli and Tunisian authorities opened interest sections in each other’s countries in 1996 but Tunis broke off all relations in 2000 after the outbreak of the second intifada.

(uruknet.info / 10.07.2011)