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Tunisian consensus 'unique in the Arab world'

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has defended the progress made since the fall of the country’s former strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, telling FRANCE 24 that Tunisians have gone from being “subjects” to “citizens.”


In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 on Saturday, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki defended the “mental revolution” that had taken place since the ousting of his predecessor, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, two years ago.

“Today, Tunisians are no longer subjects, they are citizens,” he said, adding that those in power now knew that they were accountable. Rejecting accusations that the media were being stifled, he cited the “hundreds of journalists who are criticising the government and are not in prison.”

When asked about his uneasy alliance with the Islamist party Ennahda, which dominates the government, he assured that it was the best course of action “to avoid conflicts between the Islamist and secular camps”.

The Tunisian president said the country had reached “a consensus unique in the Arab world”, which had enabled it to avoid the civil strife witnessed in other countries affected by the 2011 Arab spring.

Downplaying the influence of fundamentalists, Marzouki also encouraged women “not to be afraid,” assuring that the legal system would ensure that Tunisians could carry on enjoying their new freedom.

On the issue of violent protests against rising unemployment, the president repeated that the pace of change was necessarily slow. “We are setting up the fundamentals; it takes time, at least three to five years, we can’t just press a switch,” he said.

Finally, regarding the democratic process, he said a realistic timeline for elections would be “before the summer.”

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