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Tunisia: Dispute Between Parties Delays Ministerial Amendment

Tunisia's PM-designate Youssef Chahed speaks during a news conference after his meeting with Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi in Tunisia

Tunisia’s Prime Minister-designate Youssef Chahed speaks during a news conference after his meeting with Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi (not pictured) in Tunisia, Tunis August 3, 2016

Tunisia- Stances expressed by Ennahdha Party and Al Nidaa Party have revealed a huge difference in points of view towards the ministerial amendment that was announced by Prime Minister of Tunisia Yousef El-Shahed, before he delayed its implementation later on.

The ministerial amendment has been proposed since April when Shahed dismissed ministers of education, finance and investment. Reliable sources stated that Shahed hasn’t yet finalized the ideal figures to replace the three sacked ministers because of the considerable number of candidacies and pressure from opposition parties.

Points of views regarding the ministerial amendment varied between the two parties. Ennahdha executive office insisted that any vast change in the government formation should be postponed until local elections are completed.

But the executive office also urged filling the partial void in certain ministries until a new political map is formed after Dec. 17 – date of municipal elections. As for the candidates, Ennahda spokesman Imad al-Khamiri said that the party has suggested to the prime minister
known for their qualification.

Khamiri highlighted that ministers should have the needed qualifications, integrity and transparency.

Several political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that standing in the way of implementing the ministerial amendment and filling the void in the government attributes to Shahed pursuit to assign an expert in economy in the ministry of finance in order to be a strong negotiator with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Same sources added that Shahed is seeking thorough information from the ministries of interior and justice on candidates to avoid facing challenges similar to that of the Minister of Investment Mohammed Fadel Abdel Kafi who appeared to be facing a lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Finance.

(Source / 27.08.2017)

47 arrested during clashes in Tunisia

Image of security forces during a protest in Tunis, Tunisia on 21 March 2017 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Image of security forces during a protest in Tunis, Tunisia on 21 March 2017

Two policemen were wounded and 47 people arrested during clashes yesterday between street vendors and police authorities in the centre of Tunis, according to the Interior Ministry.

The incident occurred during a rally of around 300 people outside the headquarters of the Tunisian General Union of Labour (UGTT), the protest was being held against the local authorities’ decision to prohibit street stalls from operating.

According to the ministry, the police intervened causing the situation to escalate into clashes with protesters throwing stones at the officers resulting in damaged vehicles. The ministry has confirmed that an investigation will be opened into the clashes.

#TunisiaProtest

One protester complained about the “showdown” committed by the authorities against the working poor and denounced the failed promises of the governor of Tunis, Omar Mansour.

The clashes are believed to be a result of a campaign launched in June against anarchic stalls, which have proliferated since the 2011 revolution in a social context marked by poverty and unemployment.

Read: Tunisian police use tear gas to disperse protesters

The governorate of Tunis has given street vendors an ultimatum of five days to evacuate the areas. Other municipalities including La Marsa, in the suburbs of Tunis, or Sousse have launched similar campaigns.

(Source / 04.07.2017)

Nidaa Tounes dissenters set to announce Tunisia First Party

Tunisians wave the national flag in the southern city of Tatouine on 11th April, 2017

The former leader of Nidaa Tounes Party, Boudjemaa Remili, has told Quds Press that a number of the party’s senior members are intending to form a new party. Tunisia First looks set to be launched, he said, after efforts to reform Nidaa Tounes failed.

“We have officially submitted a file to the secretary of state about our intention to establish a new party,” explained Remili. “We have made preparations centrally and regionally for drafting texts and programmes for the party.”

He explained that he and his colleagues were the founders of Nidaa Tounes Party and tried to avoid division. “Unfortunately, there was a shift away from the principles upon which the party was founded. In view of our experience and political expertise, we decided, in the same spirit with which we founded Nidaa Tounes, to establish a new political party with the original principles.”

One of the most noticeable manifestations of the shift in Nidaa Tounes, Remili pointed out, is that it has been tainted by autocracy and an attempted monopoly rather than a collective effort. “This has no place in post-revolution Tunisia,” he insisted. “This unilateral leadership has destabilised the balance that had been achieved in the country. Nidaa Tounes has turned into one of Ennahdha Party’s allies, and this is also a serious deviation.”

Remili criticised the bringing in of media and political figures and giving them leadership positions in Nidaa Tounes, although they have nothing to do with the party and its foundation. “This is part of the attempt to circumvent the deficit reached by the leadership team. It recruited personnel and dismissed the founding fathers in a totally unacceptable way.” Such new members, he claimed, are in positions that they do not deserve. “They have not been welcomed by the party supporters and have just caused it to sink instead of saving it.”

Among the dissidents who are founding the new party are Ridha Belhaj, Fawzi Maawiyah, Nasser Shuweikha and Khamis K’ssila, as well as Remili.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi was one of the founders of Nidaa Tounes in June 2012 and won the last parliamentary election with 86 seats out of a total of 217. The party was ranked first in terms of MPs, followed by Ennahdha Party, and went on to form a coalition government. Essebsi also won the presidential election in November 2014 to become the successor to President Moncef Marzouki.

Since then, Nidaa Tounes has been going through successive crises that some believe are caused by the president’s bid to have his son Hafedh Caid Essebsi “inherit” the party leadership. However, others believe that the crises are a natural result of the heterogeneous mix of ideologies represented within the party itself. As well as independents, communists and former trade unionists from the Tunisian General Labour Union, there are former members of the defunct Democratic Constitutional Rally, which was the party of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The dictator was overthrown by the popular revolution that broke out in late 2010.

(Source / 24.06.2017)

Tunisia Cracks Down on Suspicious Charity Group Activities

Tunisia

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed

Tunis – The Tunisian authorities have given all charity organizations in the country a month to submit a statement on the foreign donations and grants that they receive.

The Tunisian government of Prime Minister Yousef Chahed is seeking through this measure to crack down on the suspicious activities of several of these groups.

It will also resort to the central bank and finance ministry to inspect the financial accounts of the organizations. The Interior Ministry has meanwhile been tasked with monitoring any suspicious acts, especially in regards to funding terrorism.

The organizations are obligated to submit their data to the government before the July 10 deadline.

The Tunisian government decision is taking place simultaneously with a campaign it is waging against businessmen and smugglers who had been accused of corruption.

The government estimates that around 20,000 charities operate in the country. Seventy percent of them were formed after 2011. In 2014, only 200 organizations disclosed the sources of their financing.

The government for its part only grants minimal funding for these groups.

(Source / 11.06.2017)

Rights group: Tunisia of neglecting missing persons file

Migrants arrive at Naples harbour in Italy on October 23, 2016 [Alessio Paduano / Anadolu]

Migrants arrive at Naples harbour in Italy on October 23, 2016

The Tunisian Forum on Economic and Social Rights said yesterday that the Tunisian government has neglected the file of more than 500 illegal Tunisian migrants who are missing in Italy.

“The current government is betting on the time factor to obscure the file of illegal Tunisian migrants, who went missing in Italy between 2010 and 2012,” the forum’s President, Abderrahmane Hedhili, told a press conference on Tuesday.

He added that successive governments have not considered this issue or raised it during negotiations on migration with the European Union.

Read: Tunisia and Italy increase cooperation on migration

Hedhili said the Tunisians follow-up committee which collects information and coordinates with the Italian authorities on the missing persons has delayed the completion of investigations into their fate.

President of El-Maseer Association for Mediterranean Youth and the mother of a missing person, Munira Ben Chafra, said she has travelled more than once to Italy and met with the Italian president and Parliament Speaker, both were cooperative.

I have confirmation that a number of missing young people are alive, but the Tunisian authorities have not taken serious action to determine their fate

she told the Anadolu Agency.

According to official Tunisian data issued in January, the fate of up to 509 Tunisians is unknown after they illegally crossed the maritime border.

(Source / 01.06.2017)

Tunisia confiscates property of businessmen arrested for graft

TUNIS, TUNISIA - MARCH 20: A Tunisian flag is raised up to the highest flagpole on the 61st anniversary of Tunisia's independence during a ceremony at Belvedere Park in Tunis, Tunisia on March 20, 2017 ( Amine Landoulsi - Anadolu Agency )

Tunisian flag is raised up to the highest flagpole on the 61st anniversary of Tunisia’s independence during a ceremony at Belvedere Park in Tunis, Tunisia on March 20, 2017

The Tunisian government has confiscated the property and frozen bank accounts of eight prominent businessmen arrested this week on suspicion of corruption in an unprecedented government campaign against graft, authorities said yesterday.

Tunisia has been praised as a model of transition after its 2011 revolution. But it still struggles with economic reforms and corruption six years after the fall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in protests triggered in part by official graft.

Mounir Ferchichi, head of the Confiscation Committee, a state-financed agency, told reporters the government had seized property and frozen bank accounts of eight businessmen arrested this week on suspicion of involvement in corruption.

Chafik Jaraya, who maintains political contacts in Tunisia and Libya and helped finance the Nidaa Tounes ruling party during the last elections in 2014, was among those detained, officials said.

“Jaraya was not arrested, but abducted by the Interior Ministry forces. What is important now is his safety and we will speak later about corruption”, said Faycel Jadlaoui, lawyer for Jaraya.

The arrests on Tuesday came days after Imed Trabelsi, the son-in-law of former president Ben Ali, apologized to the Tunisian people for corruption and accused businessmen who worked with him of still being involved in customs crimes.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has announced a crackdown on corruption as he comes under pressure from protests in the south over gas production and also from international lenders over slow progress in delivering economic reforms.

The country’s anti-corruption committee says graft is still widespread since 2011 and that it threatens Tunisia with billions of dollars a year in losses. The committee has said it presented cases against 50 senior state officials believed to be involved in corruption.

Chahed pledged last year in his first speech since taking office that fighting corruption would be a priority for the government, but he said he believed battling graft would be more difficult than fighting terrorism.

(Source / 28.05.2017)

Tunisian police use tear gas to disperse protesters

Tunisians stage a protest after a person was killed during clashes between security forces and protesters in Tunis, Tunisia on 22 May, 2017 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisians stage a protest after a person was killed during clashes between security forces and protesters in Tunis, Tunisia on 22 May, 2017

Tunisian police yesterday fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators who attempted to break into a gas pumping station in the south of the country as protests over jobs turned violent, Reuters reported.

Protesters forced the closure of the Vana Pumping Station along with other oil and gas facilities in the area over the weekend. They called for a share in the job market and energy revenues.

The Tunisian defence ministry said that it would use force to protect and retake the gas and oil facilities, while the army reopened Vana station however the protesters closed it again, triggering a violent response from the army.

Read: Tunisia protesters close oil pumping station after army standoff

Witnesses told Reuters that the clashes broke out at Vana when the military took back control to reopen the station.

Following the protests, the Tunisian government offered 1,000 job opportunities to locals with a further 500 to become available next year.

It said that the protesters rejected this offer, noting that they wanted all the jobs to start immediately in addition to a development fund with a $50 million deposit paid by the oil companies.

Tunisia is a small oil producer with an output of about 44,000 barrels per day. Italian, Austrian and French firms are investing in the country’s oil industry.

(Source / 23.05.2017)

Tunisian official: No new version of reconciliation law

Image of Abdellatif Mekki [tunistribune/Twitter]

Image of Abdellatif Mekki

There is no new version of the Tunisia’s National Reconciliation Law, the head of the Ennahda movement said yesterday.

In an interview with QudsPress, Abdellatif Mekki added that there are calls to draft a broader national reconciliation law outside the transitional justice phase.

He explained that the movement’s position of the old reconciliation law has not changed, noting that the old structure is working hard to prepare for the upcoming elections in 2019.

Read: Tunisia’s democratic transition has some achievements but still faces obstacles

Mekki warned that the controversy over the reconciliation law, which he believes is different from the old economic reconciliation law in terms of its broader capacity, could disrupt the demands to set the date of the local elections before the end of this year or be passed in parallel with setting the date for them.

Member of Parliament for the Democratic Movement, Samia Abbou, stressed the need not to pass the law even if there were calls for civil disobedience.

(Source / 27.03.2017)

Tunisian MP Qusentini calls for combating Israel’s racism

Sulaf al-Qusentini

Tunisian lawmaker Sulaf al-Qusentini has called for backing every international effort aimed at combating discrimination against the Palestinian people and curb Israel’s crimes and violations against them.

The lawmaker, who is in charge of the political and diplomatic affairs of the Global Campaign to Break the Siege on Gaza, made her remarks on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is observed annually on March 21.

Qusentini said that Israel’s racism against the Palestinians is “one of the worst and most aggressive forms of discrimination,” citing as evidence the separation wall in the West Bank, the daily crimes committed by Jewish settlers and soldiers against the Palestinians, including women and children, and the inhumane blockade on Gaza.

“The International Day for the Elimination of Discrimination represents an opportunity for all, especially the United Nations system with all its institutions, to renew the commitment to establishing the principles of justice, equality and dignity among the nations,” the Tunisian lawmaker stated.

“We, at the global campaign, announce our solidarity with Rima Khalaf, the executive secretary of ESCWA, and appreciate her position towards the pressures she was exposed to in order to make her revoke the report that considered the Israeli occupation an apartheid regime,” she added.

She called on the UN secretary-general to clarify the request he made for the withdrawal of the ESCWA report on Israel, saying his position was seen as subordination to Israeli pressures, and would lead to great disappointment among the believers in the world peace and feed tendencies for revenge and violence.

(Source / 24.03.2017)

Tunisia sentences former president Ben Ali to 6 years

Former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali [file photo]

Former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali [file photo]

A Tunisian court has sentenced in absentia former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali to six years in prison on corruption charges.

The criminal court in the capital Tunis sentenced the former dictator after declaring that he had exploited his position for his own personal benefit.

The same court has also sentenced former higher education minister Al-Azhar Bou’ouni for the same period of six years, as well as former Ben Ali adviser and political backer Al-Sobhi Al-Umari for four years on charges of nepotism.

Read: Tunisia to conduct municipal elections this year

The rulings are not the first against Ben Ali and his regime.

Similar rulings have already been issued in other cases which have stirred controversy in Tunisia, where some parties demand to enact a law on social reconciliation.

The Tunisian Al-Sarih newspaper said that Halima Ben Ali, the former president’s daughter, has commissioned lawyers to obtain permission and a passport so that she and her brother Mohamed Zine El Abidine can visit Tunisia, where there are no charges against them.

(Source / 24.03.2017)