Kas Saed does not know how to do politics

It is a simple form of government whose validity has been amply demonstrated throughout human history. It can be summed up in a few words: divide and rule. Such a basic rule is apparently ignored by leader maximo with Tunisian sauce, Kaïs Saïed.

This time, the power in place has decided to rub shoulders with the security federations and declare war on them through the faithful minister of the interior, Taoufik Charfeddine. But let’s not think that this little vendetta was sparked to, say, end the impunity of police officers protected by their unions, or to break with the sometimes crazy attitudes expressed by those same unions. No, Minister Taoufik Charfeddine started this crusade when his own name was besmirched and when his own family was mocked on social media. All this was done at the instigation of the President of the Republic, Kaïs Saïed, who, as always, sided with his minister.

In a war against the majority of the Tunisian political class and against the magistrates in particular, Kaïs Saïed has chosen to open another front against the security unions. He even expressed the pious desire to see them all united in a single structure while limiting them to a social role. He seems to be on the right track to achieve what he says, but not in the way he wants. By acting in this way, the power in place will have succeeded in achieving the feat of uniting all the security alliances against it. The latter has spent years torn apart by struggles for power and influence. At one point we even talked about the association of such and such a political figure or influential lobbyist. Today, these disagreements and conflicts can be pushed to the background as police unions will focus and help each other fight against their regulators.

During an extraordinary general assembly organized on 6 September 2022, security trade unionists even shouted slogans hostile to the interior minister. The amusing and ironic side provoked by the fact of seeing police officers condemning “the attack on trade union rights” and invoking “a practice characteristic of dictatorships” is quickly overshadowed by the seriousness of the comments made.

Once again, Kaïs Saïed does not know how to steer his boat and chooses a tough confrontation. The images that have traveled around the Tunisian networks, showing the police sit-ins dismantled by other police officers, have had a great impact. Rightly or wrongly, several representatives of the police believe that the regime depends only on their ability to enforce the established order. Old reflexes had also appeared, especially in the face of the demonstrations organized by the opposition. Today, they are rebelling against what they see as a betrayal by their regulators. The head of state, Kaïs Saïed, should know that the current situation in the country does not support the opening of another front, which will increase the tension and fuel the controversy. The President of the Republic should measure the impact and seriousness of placing the police forces in opposition to power, if only from the particularity of their work. So quick to move to the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior to announce what he considers to be important strategic decisions, the CEO should not simultaneously cause unrest and tension in the building. You would have to be a fine politician to be able to get out of this pitfall and put people’s minds at ease without discrediting the supervisory authority. It is clear that Kaïs Saïed is not one.

The President of the Republic often repeats that his political opponents, whom he never names, cause repeated crises to destabilize power and make the people pay for their electoral choices. He puts all the country’s shortcomings and all economic difficulties on this argument, which is weak to say the least. However, it is clear that this is a fairly faithful description of the policy pursued by the President of the Republic, who does not hesitate to put whole sectors of society or professions at stake. It is certain that attacks on the police and their impunity can prove fruitful in terms of popularity and fuel the populism that today functions as state policy. But playing with fire can burn you, especially since an honorable resolution to this conflict will not be easy to find. Since his accession to power, Kaïs Saïed has shown that he was a man of confrontation and conflict, and that he was not inclined to dialogue and a pacifist solution. In this he invoked in particular the strength of the state represented by its forces of law and order. Today, it is with the same forces that he comes into conflict with consequences that can be serious.

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