Tunisia criticises US interference

Kais Saied has met with the US ambassador to express his dissatisfaction with the criticism of the new government formation
El presidente de Túnez, Kais Saied

AP/FETHI BELAID  -   Tunisian President Kais Saied

The Tunisian government has expressed its dissatisfaction with the debate in the US Congress over the appointment of the new government. From the US House of Representatives for the Middle East and North Africa, delegates have reiterated that "democracy in Tunisia is threatened and in danger".

Following these statements, the president of the government, Kais Saied, received the US ambassador to demonstrate his dissatisfaction with US actions. Saied said that Tunisians outside the country were trying to "distort what is happening in the country", and stressed that diplomatic relations between the two countries would remain stable.

In his meeting with the ambassador, the Tunisian president reportedly took the opportunity to clarify "a series of questions" and raise "ambiguities" that had been defended by opponents of the current government, led by the Islamic Renaissance Movement, a group that, according to Saied, is trying to gain political followers outside the country.

The US response coincides with the formation of the new Tunisian government, which almost three months later has managed to form a new interim government in which women have a historic presence. In this respect, the government is under the mandate of Najla Bouden, the first woman to hold the post of Tunisia's first head of government. In the ministerial portfolio we also have other women leading the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice, the latter under the leadership of Laila Jaffal.

El presidente de Túnez nombró a Najla Bouden como la primera mujer primera ministra de la historia del país y le encargó la formación de un gobierno, dos meses después de haber tomado el poder
AFP PHOTO/HO/PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICE - Tunisia's president appointed Najla Bouden as the country's first-ever female prime minister and tasked her with forming a government, two months after she took power

Despite the apparent political stability with these new appointments, Tunisia continues to be heavily criticised for implementing anti-democratic measures. Opposition parties abroad reiterate their attacks on Saied's government after it took over all political powers under him last August.

In a virtual hearing, Democratic Representative Ted Deutch said that "Tunisian democracy is in danger after President Kais Saied began to impose executive power while Parliament continues to suspend. We are deeply concerned about the actions of President Saeed, despite the positive moves made in recent weeks," he said.

Deutch concluded that "Tunisia has made great progress over the past 11 years, and its people and leaders must continue to work to establish the government they deserve and want. 

Protesta antigubernamental en Túnez, el 25 de julio de 2021
PHOTO/REUTERS - Anti-government protest in Tunisia on 25 July 2021.

The United States has congratulated Tunisia for having managed to approve a new political formation in which, in addition, women have gained an important role. Thus, despite US criticism of the lack of democratisation of the new interim government, the State Department spokesman, Ned Price, said in a press release that he congratulated Tunisia on "the formation of a new government headed by Prime Minister Najla Bouden Ramadan". The new government is a welcome step forward for Tunisia in addressing the significant economic, social and health challenges facing the country," he said.

In this context, the US, France and Germany are pressing Tunisia to engage in a national dialogue that includes all political parties, organisations and social actors. They hope that this dialogue will lead to discussions and solutions on political issues and influence the parliament to move towards a democratic path.

Simpatizantes del presidente tunecino Kais Saied se manifiestan en apoyo a su toma de poder y suspensión del parlamento, en Túnez, Túnez, 3 de octubre de 2021
PHOTO/REUTERS - Supporters of Tunisian President Kais Saied demonstrate in support of his seizure of power and suspension of parliament, in Tunis, Tunisia, 3 October 2021.

On Thursday, Saied issued a series of orders that put an end to the political phase in which the president assumed all political responsibility after decreeing the suspension of the Tunisian constitution. Following this decision, Saied is embarking on a new political course that is not exempt from the scrutiny of Western powers that seek to ensure the country's democratisation.