Three years ago, on 14 January 2011, Tunisia became the birthplace of the “Arab spring” following the desperate act of a street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, who immolated himself sparking off protests about economic grievances and transformed into mass demonstrations throughout the country.
During three years, Tunisia has struggled to find its footing since the ouster of the former autocratic president Ben Ali, by taking the longest path, yet the hardest one by empowering the Tunisian people’s position as the sole determinant to shape the post-revolution political system.
Thus, Tunisia has become distinguished not only as the spark that ignited the “Arab spring” uprisings, but also as the first of these to successfully institutionalise the “revolution” through what have been hailed as the first ever free, transparent and pluralistic elections in the history of the country, with broad participation and strong support from the international community to elect the National Constituent Assembly in October 2011 with the main task to draft a new constitution. Therefore, the first democratically elected government took office in October 2011 with a unique experience of coalition of three political parties (Ennahdha - moderate islamist - CPR and Ettakatol – center left) to rule the country till the approval of a new constitution.
This experience led to the consensus and agreement among all the political parties, mediated by the country’s largest labour union and other partners of the dialogue national, under the plan, the government relinquished the power to a caretaker cabinet of technocrats tasked to oversee general elections which will be held later this year 2014.
It is true that transition to democracy in Tunisia has turned out to be more difficult than what was expected before, which made many Tunisians frustrated as they cannot see a successful outcome three years after the revolution. Concerns rose about the future of the country, but this situation should not be disappointing: Tunisia is not an exception, democratic transitions are always difficult but with the resilience of the civil society, the active role of the women organisations, the trade unions, Tunisia is about to win the challenge and to be a model for democratic transition.
As deliberations on a new constitution begin, the constituent assembly is pushing ahead with the adoption of a long awaited new constitution, voting on it article by article, I am hopeful, we will have a nice surprise during this period of celebration and constitution will be adopted soon, the new charter is tasked to ensure the legitimate aspirations of all Tunisians for responsive, accountable governance and respect for their universal human rights and lay foundation for a real democracy and freedom.
Approving the new constitution will be a crucial milestone for Tunisia as the emergence of the second Republic and for the Arab world to keep the Arab spring alive.
As far as foreign policy is concerned, Tunisia will keep consistently pursuing a policy of openness and moderation in its international relations, based on its adherence to the United Nations Charter and to international legality. It will unwaveringly continue to work to promote peace and cooperation as well as to champion the values of tolerance, solidarity in its own region and throughout the world and to consolidate its relations with brotherly countries, among the top of them the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Tunisia and Pakistan share the same vision and values of democracy, freedom and dignity, they enjoy long-standing political, economic, social and cultural relations based on mutual respect and solidarity. The new democratic Tunisia will endeavour to spare no efforts to enhance the existing relations as well as to find new avenues of cooperation in order to upgrade our bilateral relations to the highest levels of cooperation and partnership.
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Mourad Bourehla is Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia to Pakistan
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