While Kas Saed talks about sovereignty, Najla Bouden goes begging

On Wednesday, September 28, 2022, a presidential decree was published in the Official Journal of the European Union regarding a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to the Grains Office to contribute to the financing of the food security resilience response project. The loan is for an amount of 150.5 million euros.

On Thursday 29 September, the head of government calls on four ambassadors from the major powers (France, Germany, Great Britain and Japan) to lobby the IMF. The latter is in negotiations with Tunisia for a loan of between two and four billion dollars. This loan should have been paid since the first quarter of 2022.

The policy of the Bouden government is obvious. It is begging and seeks to solve short-term rather than structural problems.

It commits future generations to credits that will not serve them. These credits are requested for daily consumption and to reduce the abysmal deficit in the public finances.

Previously, and especially since the beginning of the year, the government took out a large number of loans from banks and the public, always to cover current expenses, never for investments.

This policy of Najla Bouden, however open to criticism, has the advantage of being clear. It is identical to the one adopted by the various governments since the revolution and the sinister troika. The first to take Tunisia down this path was former President Moncef Marzouki, who was the first to sign a “consumer loan” agreement with the IMF.

Instead of privatizing public companies, drastically reduce the weight of the payroll in her administration, help companies to push them to create jobs and growth, Najla Bouden begs.

The head of government pursues her policy headlong, without any public debate, without being accountable to anyone and without explaining what she is doing, neither to the parliament, which does not exist, nor to the media, which she despises.

All this is clear. What is less is that the president of the republic has a vision at the opposite extreme of the policy of his head of government!

How can a single regime function with two opposing policies? It sounds incredible, but this is exactly what happens with the cure after July 25th.

Since his accession to the Presidency of the Republic and in particular since his coup, Kaïs Saïed has not stopped saying and repeating that we must adopt a new policy different from the one pursued until now. The last time was during the African-Japanese Ticad Summit. But his head of government does the exact opposite of what he says.

On several occasions, Kaïs Saïed insisted on the notion of Tunisia’s independence and its sovereignty. The last time was in front of a congressional delegation. Last April, during an interview with French ambassador André Parant, he repeated the word sovereignty nine times.

But Najla Bouden tramples on this sovereignty with both feet by asking four ambassadors from the great powers to help her in her negotiations with the IMF and by presenting her reform program to them. A program that she did not even deserve to present to the media in her country.

Furthermore, we have lost count of the number of times Kaïs Saïed has accused speculators of being behind shortages and price inflation. Media, politicians and analysts can tell him that the problem is international and structural, Kaïs Saïed has not changed his fixed idea one iota.

However, since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the government has received numerous international aid and loans in connection with the food supply.

If one seeks to understand the politics of the Kaïs Saïed regime, one would not understand anything because of the contradictions between the official political discourse of the President of the Republic and the real official policy of his government. One says we are heading left while the other is heading right.

Either Kaïs Saïed is lying to the people, or Najla Bouden is fooling the IMF and foreign powers with a so-called program of structural reforms to be implemented.

There is only one way to answer this, and that is for Kaïs Saïed and/or Najla Bouden to sit down in front of professional journalists from a Tunisian media, confusing them in their contradictions and pressuring them to express their politics clearly.

Either Kaïs Saïed maintains his policy and refuses Najla Bouden. In this case, there is no IMF loan.

Either Najla Bouden maintains her strategy and refuses Kaïs Saïed. In this case, the President of the Republic is discredited to the Tunisians.

Kaïs Saïed and Najla Bouden, aware of their contradictions, carefully avoid any contact with the press. Furthermore, both do not even have a communications director in their department.

Raouf Ben Hedi

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