After the January 2011 Revolution, a transitional government of technocrats was created under Beji Caïd-Essebsi (BCE). This government managed to stabilize the country and organize elections for a constitutional assembly efficiently and rapidly in October 2011. Order prevailed. As in my current work-in-progress, one could see established structures (in my case, squares and circles, a nine-patch) still in place,
if a bit frayed around the edges.
The Constitutional Assembly had a one-year mandate that ended in October 2012. It has finally produced the rough draft for a constitution…a very rough draft. Called "The Best Constitution in the World" by the president of the Constitutional Assembly, others have openly called it "The Constitution of Shame." The problem : the separation of State and religion is threatened. It confirms Islam as the religion of Tunisian society, which was in the old constitution. However, it names Islam as the religion of the State, which would allow for the ruling religious party to bring back the subject of the Shariâa (religious law).
In addition, no mention of international agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is made, and there exists no mention of freedom of thought and freedom of conscience, which are necessary in a democracy. And it proposes a regime heavily weighted toward a Parliamentary structure that would allow theocratic dictatorship and therefore a return to a repressive regime. During the revolution, we saw slogans for political and social change that had nothing to do with religion. The Constitutional Assembly has not listened to the Tunisian people and does not provide any sort of improved document. Experts maintain this is a step backwards. It would appear, then, that things are becoming more and more entangled, disintegrated, eroded.
The subject of elections remains unarticulated. Yet, a glimmer of hope appeared last night when BCE declared that he would be a candidate for the presidency. At 86, this prestigious lawyer and nationalist hardly needs to seek glory and may be the only person who can garner a majority of votes and save the country. The glimmer is only that, however. The TV program was jammed at the scheduled time and had to be aired later--shades of dictatorship and censorship. The rough draft of the constitution would put a maximum age of 75 for the position of President of the Republic, a thinly-veiled manoeuver to exclude BCE by the ruling religious party.
And as expected, scandals continue to rock the government. The most recent: Sixty-seven delegates to the Constitutional Assembly have received double paychecks because they have other positions as government employees, as well as four ministers. Additionally, yesterday was the final date for ministers to provide a complete financial statement that includes all assets. How many will comply?
Indeed, when held up to the light for scrutiny, Tunisian politics look more and more entangled.