A month after Tunisia passed its controversial new constitution, analyst Mohamed-Dhia Hammami joins New Lines’ Lydia Wilson in The Lede to talk about the alarming power it grants president Kais Saied — and what that means for Tunisia’s hard-won democracy.
On July 25 — Tunisia’s Republic Day — the 2014 constitution will almost surely be discarded via referendum in favor of one written by Tunisia’s ascendant autocrat, Kais Saied, a former adjunct law professor who has amassed sole control of the country over the last year as he has systematically dismantled the Parliament, government, judiciary and independent election commission.
Rached Ghannouchi’s colleagues may claim he is coming out against Saied late in the day. But in this interview, he says his position has aligned with Tunisians who initially supported Saied’s constitutional coup only to slowly turn against him with increasing evidence of anti-democratic plans for the country.
Even among the skeptics, there is more to Stambali than mere cabaret. It is to Stambali that the marginalized, the overlooked, the descendants of slaves, ex-prisoners, sex workers and unwed mothers look for advice and solace. But Tunisia’s last remaining practitioner may be the end of Stambali.
A decade after the folks in Thala celebrated their first free and democratic election, all power in Tunisia has become centralized in the hands of President Kais Saied. Yet, paradoxically, Thala’s election organizers were not sad to see the Parliament go. It seems to be a testament to the widely perceived notion that what had manifested after the small successes of the Arab Spring was, in effect, a corrupt and ineffective Parliament, which hadn’t made a difference in people’s everyday lives.
As the summer draws to a close and with urgent economic deadlines on the horizon, how long will mass support for the president continue? What are the political implications of Saied’s latest decree? And does that decree signal a return to despotism or is Tunisia’s democratic transition on pause?
The events taking place in Tunisia are the cries of a large part of the population that has been taken hostage by a frozen partisan system. This time, the call was made without a single drop of blood. As for the future, we wait and see.