What Najla Bouden has to tell the Tunisians

She has been in office since October 2021, hailed as the first female head of government in Tunisia and in the Arab world, Najla Bouden is however distinguished by one thing. His silence.

In a year when Najla Bouden is head of government, she has not made any official speech to the Nation. One would have thought that to do better than Hichem Mechichi would be no feat at all. The former tenant of the Kasbah was far from an ace in communication, it would have been easy to do better. And yet Najla Bouden still managed to make it much worse, simply to avoid speaking.

In these times of famine, crisis, bankruptcy, scarcity, elections, economic, social and political tensions, a head of government is supposed to at best reassure his fellow citizens, at worst to inform them and confront them with a reality that no one can escape.

October 25, United Kingdom. Following the resignation of Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak takes up the task of inheriting a Britain plunged into economic and social crisis. He gives a speech to explain ” Why [il] hold on[t] today before the British as Prime Minister”.

In this first speech he announces that he “will work to repair mistakes” made under her predecessor. His speech evokes “difficult decisions” which the British should prepare for, but also sends a message “of hope” and “unit” and promises to restore “economic stability and confidence”.

The British will remember three main ideas: “fix error” ; “difficult decisions” and ” hope “. He refused to press his predecessor, but acknowledged mistakes and promised to work to overcome them. “Trust is earned and I will earn yours”, he said.

August 24, France. As a preamble to the Council of Ministers, the French President Emmanuel Macron gives a keynote address for this year, where he announces “the end of abundance and a form of carelessness”. According to him, it is “the end of the abundance of liquidities, of products, of technologies that seemed to us to be forever available, the break in the value chain, the scarcity of this or that technological material, the end of the abundance of land or matter, that of water… “. He assures: “we have a duty to say things, to name them, with great clarity and without catastrophes”.

“The moment we are living, and our countrymen are living it with us, may seem to be structured by a series of crises, each more serious than the other. It could be that some would see our fate as constantly dealing with crises and emergencies”. We keep: “responsibility” ; ” occupation “ ; ” have to “ and “clarity”.

Six minutes were enough for Rishi Sunak and twelve for Emmanuel Macron to prepare the British and French for difficult times. They anticipated the changes we all know and paved the way for the unpopular decisions they will decide to make.

In Tunisia, all lights are red, but no one prepares Tunisians for dark days. However, the thorny subjects are not lacking. The content of the negotiations with the IMF, the partial or total cancellation of certain compensations, the lack of basic products, the soaring prices, the situation of substitute teachers, the parliamentary elections, the electoral law, the finance law, the secret migration drama. … Yes, exactly that …

Being in the shadow of the omni-president Kaïs Saïed certainly gives some comfort, but it does not diminish the responsibility of the post and the duty of the mission in the current context. Najla Bouden did not speak after the drama about Zarzis; she let nothing leak out of the negotiations with the IMF; it did not respond to the scandal of the acts of torture in Messaâdine prison; she did not explain anything to the Tunisians about the lack of petrol, milk, tomatoes and medicine.

“Our country is facing a deep economic crisis. The crisis is global and our country is not left out.

I express my full awareness of the difficulties of the situation and I understand that this government will have its work cut out for it to turn around a country in crisis and restore confidence.

After all that we have been through in recent years, we have many challenges to overcome. I know the high office I have accepted and the responsibility that comes with it.

The legacy of previous crises is still present, but we will work to overcome it. Mistakes have been made, but we’re here to fix them. The global context affects and will affect supply chains worldwide. We will have to rationalize our spending and be patient.

The coming days, weeks and months will be difficult, but we will face them together. Our government has difficult decisions to make, but it will put the interests of citizens above all else.”

This is what Najla Bouden could say to the Tunisians by explaining to them what the government intends to do to remedy this. And stick to it.

A speech in a few minutes, without having to justify yourself by mentioning “tribute of the black decade”, none of them “the legacy left by successive governments” before her. Najla Bouden knew the situation before she took the reins – or almost – of the government. She knew what to expect. When we assume a responsibility, we accept it to the end or we deny it outright.

“You can’t question the moment, only your will” said Rushi Sunak, minutes after his inauguration.

To say nothing is to take the Tunisians for idiots. Tunisians deserve better…

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