Tunisia: the President Calls for a Government of National Unity

Tunisian President, Bji Cad Essebsi, Initiates a Project for a National Unity Government

June 13th, 2016

During a televised interview, aired on June 2nd, President Béji Caïd Essebsi shared his plan for a government of national unity that would unite politicians, employers and the largest workers’ union (UGTT). The main aim of this unusual gathering is to resolve the economic and social crises currently facing Tunisia.

Similar ideas were also promoted during the presidential election campaign of 2014, by politicians such as Rached Ghannouchi, the President of Ennahdha, the Islamic moderate party of the country and other parties such as Al Joumhoury. Béji Caïd Essebsi explained his decision to create a government of unity in terms of Tunisia’s economic and social crisis. It is his belief that the current government is unable to solve the crisis, implying that the current head of the executive, Habib Essid, could face removal.

The President has reportedly already started to negotiate with the workers’ union and employers in order to kick-start his plan. Both parties agreed on the necessity to reform the government without, however, agreeing on the creation or the suppression of any given ministry. Moreover, before any change can be brought about, the other parties of the current governmental coalition must first agree to a decrease in their political representation. The opinion of the parties of the opposition should also be taken into consideration.

Even if the concept of a government of national unity could potentially bring consensus and help pull Tunisia out of the current crisis, it has also raised questions from observers. For example, Asma Bouraoui Khouja, of the think tank ‘Ifrikiya pour le dialogue économique’ (meaning Ifrikiya for an economic dialogue) wonders where the counter-powers to government would be found if the unions and the employers are members of the government. Other observers believe that this is a political move by Béji Caïd Essebsi, in order to silence critics of his current policies. Finally, some commentators believe that the President is offering this solution as it allow him to emerge victorious whatever the outcome: either for having promoted the idea if it works, or by blaming the other actors if it doesn’t.


Cultural Diplomacy News
Pierre Even, CD News