Tunisia is one of the Arab countries that heralded and had a complete success of the Arab Spring revolution in 2011, which wept North African and Middle Eastern countries. After long street demonstrations and civil unrest, the citizen of Tunisia managed to overthrow a dictator, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and began the democratization of the country. In recent months, the country had fallen into a political quagmire after President Kais Saied suspended the parliament, dismissed the Prime Minister, and revoked political immunity against criminal prosecution. This came after a public cry and protest on how the government responded to COVID-19, a lagging economy, and unending corruption among political leaders. At the peak of the COVID-19 wave in the country, public hospitals began falling and experienced loss of electricity and lack of oxygen, which increased preventable deaths (Abouaoun & Siebert, 2021). Public demonstrations were also fueled by prosecutions of those who criticized the government on social media, harassment of journalists and civil society, and police brutality against demonstrators.
President Saied to invocate article 80 of the constitution poses unanswered questions on the fate of democracy in Tunisia. Despite Saied getting the massive public on his decision to suspend the current political system, there is fear of the country going back to the oppressive one-party system. From July 2021 to date, the President has neither appointed a new Prime Minister nor opened that parliament, but the country has experienced some level of tenuous stability since then. The continuous public grievances towards the government of Tunisia show that the democracy that people fought for in 2011 has not been fulfilled. The citizens badly desire a consolidated democracy with accountable leaders who focus on better citizens’ lives rather than being corrupt and selfish. Tunisia is a remarkable case study that shows that a democracy that focuses on improving people’s lives has a long future in North African countries.
Abouaoun, E., & Siebert, L. (2021). What’s next for Tunisia’s transition? United States Institute of Peace. Web.