Political party update: Tunisian felloul step out, Communists rise, and Ennahdha stumbles

Last weekend, in the midst of instability caused by rioting across the country, Beji Caid Essebsi launched a political initiative aimed at being a unifying, secular force in Tunisian politics. Eighty-six year old Essebsi played an important role in Tunisia’s transition last year, balancing the interests of revolutionaries, Islamists, and former ...

A news update from Tunisia

Due to some travel outside of Tunisia last week, I was unable to post many updates. Here’s a rundown of what I’ve been reading to catch up on the news from Tunisia from the last ten days. I’ll be publishing more in-depth stories on political parties, salafist activities, and economic matters over the course of the week. Stay tuned. Salafism Salafi ...

Tension and uncertainty battle hope ahead of Sunday’s Elections

  I arrived at my local Carrefour this morning at 8:45. The parking lot was half full even though the story doesn’t open until 9. With my shopping cart I navigated my way toward the entrance with about 300 other folks, all waiting for the gates to rise. At 9 a.m. exactly, the race was [...]

What’s the real story about the Tunisian elections? Hint, it’s not all about Ennahdha

For those who are following me on Twitter, you’ve probably sensed my indignation at the flock of reporters who have descended on Tunisia this week to cover the elections. About 90 percent of the stories filed so far are about Ennahdha. So how about another take on the elections? First, the facts: Ennahdha, the Islamist [...]

Law and order speech aimed directly at ordinary Tunisians

This morning Tunisian Prime Minister par interim Caid Essebsi gave a law and order speech that attempted to calm the country in advance of elections, now just 6 weeks away. Essebsi’s speech called on the security service to maintain order throughout the country, in particular through the application of the state of emergency law. Under [...]

The struggle for dignity – Comparing Georgian and Tunisian democracies

I recently had the pleasure to visit the Republic of Georgia. On top of escaping the stifling summer heat for the cool mountains, I was able to talk to a number of Georgians about their country’s  steps down the road of democracy. It was impossible not to compare these thoughts with those that I hear [...]

Don’t Tunisians want to Vote

The Foreign Policy Middle East blog just published my latest article on the Tunisian elections. Check it out at foreignpolicy.com (here’s the direct link: http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/08/09/dont_tunisians_want_to_vote

Countdown to default – Tunisian style

Ineffective outreach strategies left partisans poised to start this week locked in a bitter and messy fight to mobilize voters to take action. Over the weekend, they focused their attention on a two stage proposal. Their goal was to make it more attractive to voters. By Monday afternoon, they thought they were close, the President [...]

Parties fail to take advantage of political opening

The violence and disruptions of this past weekend, coupled with the most recent address by the Tunisian prime minister, offered an opportunity for political parties to come forward and reach out to voters. By all measures, they are failing the test. As I noted earlier this week, Prime Minister Essebsi’s speech prompted all of the [...]

Decried by activists, Tunisian PM’s speech spurs parties to action

I wrote yesterday about the continuing disorder and violence in Tunisia over the weekend, provoked by activists attempting to reoccupy the Kasbah on Friday. The Tunisian Prime Minister, Béji Caïd Essebsi, responded to this violence in a speech on Monday that upset activists and placed the blame squarely on extremist political parties. Essebsi had ...
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