Tunisia is officially entering a dangerous turbulence zone

The legend is well known to aviators and sailors who avoid the Bermuda Triangle area like the plague. According to this legend, this area located in the Atlantic Ocean between Florida and Puerto Rico (towards the islands of Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic) was the scene of a large number of ship and plane disappearances.

Tunisia entered the night between Monday 23 August and Tuesday 24 August in this dangerous zone of the Bermuda Triangle by means of a presidential decree announced at midnight, which briefly announced the extension of the extraordinary measures was decided on July 25 last year. It is a matter of suspending the work of parliament and lifting the immunity of deputies. The measures were to last only thirty days, depending on what the President of the Republic himself had announced and what deadline expired yesterday, hence the midnight press release. Why not in the middle of the day and accompanied by a speech explaining the reasons for this extension? Another mystery to which only Kaïs Saïed has answered.

In the press release, both cynical and lapidary, the presidency does not announce a new deadline, the extraordinary measures are renewed for the time being. It is clear that the preliminary will last indefinitely.

When the President of the Republic announced his decisions on the evening of July 25, 2021, Tunisians came out en masse to applaud him. Real jubilation scenes, with car horns and dinghies, in the middle of the night’s curfew. People were relieved to see the controversial Chamber of Deputies suspended and hope that the outlaws who had hitherto hidden behind their parliamentary immunity would be brought to justice. There was real hope and this became a reality in opinion polls where the popularity of Kaïs Saïed exceeded 90%. Soviet course? It is not only what will remind the country of the Soviets, but the Tunisians do not know it yet, or rather refuse to see it.

On the evening of July 25, and as can be seen from the video of his speech, Kaïs Saïed made a series of promises. Business News came back last week on these promises to discover that very few of them have been met.

The Tunisians hoped the Islamists would be brought to justice, but none of them are bothered, with the exception of Anouar Maârouf, who is under house arrest.

If the decisions of 25 July were endorsed by the Tunisians, neighboring and friendly countries opposed a certain skepticism. The United States responded on July 26. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a telephone interview with Kaïs Saïed to question him about the decisions he made the day before and to urge him to preserve his democratic gains. On July 31, they respond again to call for a return to normalcy. ” The return to the normal situation requires the clarification of new strategic axes accompanied by the formation of a government and the appointment of its new leader as soon as possible in order to continue the unfinished democratic transition. “, the White House stated at the end of a telephone communication between Kaïs Saïed and Jack Sullivan, national security adviser to President Joe Biden.

On 13 August, a high-level delegation traveled to Tunis to meet with Kaïs Saïed and inform him of the need to respect democracy in Tunisia.

Tunisia’s first partner, France, also responded at short notice with a press release from the Quai d’Orsay of 26 July, in which we call for respect for the rule of law and a return to normal functioning institutions as soon as possible.

On July 22, French President Emmanuel Macron sends a handwritten message to Kaïs Saïed and then speaks to him by telephone on August 7.

Algeria, the neighbor and big sister to the west, also reacted quickly. Its foreign minister, Ramtane Lamamra, was sent to Tunis three times in one month. July 27 and July 1eh August to send an oral message from President Abdelmajid Tebboune to President Kaïs Saïed, and yesterday, 23 August, to send him a written message. This even made the Tunisians laugh, who had fun saying that Mr Lamamra was the minister who met Kaïs Saïed the most during the last thirty days.

In addition to these meetings, President Tebboune spoke by telephone a few times with his Tunisian counterpart yesterday. Algeria directly fears that the region, especially its western region, will arise if the situation in Tunisia becomes unstable or if the Tunisian Islamists ever decide to resort to violence to regain their lost power. They will no doubt be supported by their Algerian peers.

To all these countries who were concerned about the fate of Tunisian democracy, the President of the Republic wanted to be reassuring and reaffirmed that he would always stand by the will of the Tunisian people. As for the extraordinary measures, he assured that they will remain extraordinary and time-limited. By this I mean that they must not exceed thirty days.

Except that here the thirty days have passed and Tunisia still does not have a head of government or a real government at all. We sail in sight, and the excitement of the first days begins to dissipate to make room for concern in the light of the arbitrariness and uncertainty that characterize this period.

The entire Tunisian political class is asking for a roadmap. The President of the Republic responded ironically, urging them to look for it in geographical textbooks by playing on words, as the roadmap in Arabic is synonymous with a geographical map.

Travel ban decisions hit businessmen without knowing why. Some have been able to travel and others have not, even though they have pending cases in the courts.

Similarly, on the part of deputies and politicians, some were able to leave the country and others not without the criteria being explained.

In any case, there has been no court order that can legally justify the travel bans. For the last thirty days it has really been the domination of arbitrariness. To all these beautiful people we said that it was temporary and that we had to wait until the thirty days had passed.

Now that those thirty days have passed, are the borders so open again to everyone? No one has an answer, the presidency of the republic does not even have a head of communications.

In addition to the travel bans, several political figures were surprised by a decision on house arrest issued by the person in charge of the Ministry of the Interior.

If these decisions are justified to some, as their misdeeds are known to the general public, they remain inexplicable to many others, who loudly and clearly affirm that they have nothing to blame themselves for. In each case, they have seized it, despite obstacles we can scarcely imagine. “

In the wake of the unrest, the National Anti-Corruption Authority (which has not had a president for several weeks) in Friday’s raid. There is also no court decision here.

Judges, politicians, NGO leaders, journalists and all PEPs (politically exposed persons) marvel at the fate and confidentiality of their declarations of assets submitted to this body. The law strictly punishes any violation of this personal data, but no one seems to care about this, as everything is put under the yoke of “extraordinary decisions”.

That these measures are limited in time and that they are accompanied by arbitrary or even unjust decisions, it was tolerated when it was a matter of putting an end to all the chaos that we observed before 25 July, and that all these “injustices” and these “inconveniences” would be abolished at the end of the thirty days.

Now that the deadline has expired and the president is not announcing another one, the door is open to uncertainty and concern.

It is said that a situation of uncertainty is worse than bad decisions, because with the latter we know at least what we can expect.

On this day, August 24, 2021, Tunisians have no idea whether they want a parliament or not, when the formation of a government will be announced, and by whom it will be led, what is the fate of all these people, who are put under house arrest and who are forced to go out, if nothing else to meet their needs and the needs of their families, what is the fate of the dozens of complaints that sleep in the corridors of justice and that hit politicians.

In short, Tunisia is sailing from today in a dangerous zone of turbulence, and wise is the one who can say what is Kaïs Saïed’s plan.

Raouf Ben Hedi

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