My Facebook timeline is packed with political/religious news and statuses; the same for my twitter feed. But it doesn’t stop there; politics are the main diet of almost every discussion I get involved in – and discontent, anger and pessimism are the general feelings that dominate these discussions.
“There are so many rumours around. Everything is a rumour and I no longer know who to believe or what to think. There is no tangible change and it’s hard to trust anyone in the media or the political scene” said Shaima, a 24 year old student from Tunis.
My conversations usually boil down to the conclusion that the current chaos within the country and the mad ideological fights we’re witnessing are only temporary, and that this is a necessary phase in the democratic transition, since everyone is just learning how to think publically for themselves without being censored or told what to do for the first time since independence (around 50 years ago). But this may not be the full picture.
According to a manifesto published this week outlining the dysfunction within the bigger political scene written and signed up till the moment of writing by 141 Tunisians - the Troika, the ruling coalition of the Ennahda Movement (Islamist party), Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol (Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties) are consumed with only one thing: how to stay in power for as long as possible as a legitimate democratically elected power.
‘The coalition has shown no eagerness - and that's an understatement - to deal with urgent and sensitive issues concerning the trial of criminals in areas related to justice, police and finances. Rather, it acts selectively when it comes to treating issues related to transitional justice: those who confirm their loyalty and offer their services enjoy an immunity which Ennahda does not seek to hide’, stated the writers of the Manifesto.
‘As for the Congress for the Republic and Ettakattol, they are supposed to correct the balance of power by exerting pressure on the majority (Ennahda) to make the break with the old regime. But all they do is actually maintain the domination of Ennahda. Their Ministers in the Government are in no way different from those of Ennahda in terms of incompetence, lack of courage and sometimes abuse of power; their excuse – that they are busy drafting the constitution – just isn’t convincing.’
The manifesto also outlined its take on the opposition parties. Also vying for power and working on how to maintain it, once achieved.
‘It is a curious mix of liberals and left wing bourgeois who reduce the level of their battle solely to the protection of individual freedoms and human rights. Admittedly, this is a noble fight, but it is not enough to prevent it from being disconnected from the great cause of liberty in its broad sense, namely the struggle that guarantees the economic and social rights’ of the mass of the people.
The manifesto is intended as a reminder to the rest of us that ‘Tunisians refuse to be taken hostages by the two political groups who are determined to betray the revolution’. The drafters’ demands are simple:
To put the criminals on trial and those involved with corruption;
To provide employment opportunities that can also be reconciled with the demand that;
Tunisia is not rendered subordinate either to the US, or to France, or to Qatar. That, the Tunisian people are free people;
‘We, Tunisians are weak, poorly organised, but full of optimism, idealism and poetry. We are determined in all cases not to be isolated by the counter-revolutionary forces, and not to let our people become, consciously or unconsciously, victims of these double-faced tormentors.
We will shout louder to make ourselves heard beyond the Salafists and the modernists’ troublemaking and beyond the appeals begging for the return of political dinosaurs.
Lest we forget why our martyrs gave their lives: for freedom, national dignity and the confiscated right of our people for work!’