Tunisian writer Gilbert Naccache, a prominent leftist political dissident during the 1960s and 1970s, is a well-known voice in Tunisian politics. Tunisia Live asked him about the country’s state of affairs. The following article reflects a segment of that conversation translated from the original French.
How can Tunisia address the ongoing violence and build citizens’ confidence in government?
Under these conditions, terrorism is a real threat to the country. But these movements are marginal and hopefully the unity of Tunisians will discourage them, forcing them to live in small groups without possible integration into the country.
Who benefits from this violence? In the short term, many politicians stand to gain from the ongoing security crisis. In the longer term, no one in the country will benefit from it except perhaps for some foreign entities.
To overcome the crisis, the best policy is to show a will to rely on the people, so that parties will abandon their selfish interests and unite to finally listen to popular demands and begin to provide freedom, transitional justice, respect for the martyrs and wounded of the revolution, employment and fighting regional inequalities, etc..
The adoption in the shortest time of a truly democratic constitution, based on decentralization and balance of powers, would greatly facilitate the return of confidence in government.
How can the intelligence services be reformed?
In the old system, all intelligence services leaned on the RCD [Former leader Ben Ali’s] party apparatus, which was the most efficient way for them to function at that time. Strengthening of relevant intelligence services would involve them making regular reports to their superiors through commissions composed of representatives of the people (in various elected bodies). This would provide better security, not to the party in power, but to the whole country, and will not sacrifice even a small part of our freedom.
What has been the importance of discussions at the NCA?
The discussions at the NCA are political discussions, and it is good that they take place. Tunisians following the work of this assembly are now aware of the substance and implications of these debates on the constitution. This is information they would have never accessed if the constitution had been drafted by experts, as some people demanded.
The time spent on these discussions was not entirely wasted. Discussions took place to reconcile positions of people who were initially reluctant to talk with each other. It also took place, with all the difficulties of this dialogue, despite various maneuvers and schemes hindering the work of committees, as well as a lack of respect for others. It was a process of learning about democracy and its difficulties.
How do you assess the role of opposition parties in the protests?
I will not judge the Popular Front, the main target of political assassinations. However, I can praise the protests of young revolutionaries at the Bardo sit-in who denounced the shameful way Nidaa Tounes is trying to exploit the sit-in and reap the benefits of youth engagement.
What do you think of Ennahdha’s response to the ongoing crisis?
Their lack of concessions, clinging to arrogant and boastful positions could lead to the party’s downfall. To continue, it will have to take into account the various pressures on it, especially to put an end to its hegemonic behavior and abuse of power. These concessions could perhaps lead to the breakup of Ennahdha into a multitude of parties, anytime sooner or later. Not doing so could be suicidal.
Is Tunisia is moving toward a solution?
I really hope so. The democratic and social revolution is still alive and it will require all stakeholders in order to move towards a solution. This revolution has not occurred by chance, it corresponded to a need. The lack of experience of everyone involved, the behavior of the parties, and their lack of professionalism have hampered the implementation of vital decisions for the revolution.
But the things it has achieved, especially freedom, guarantee that there will be no turning back. Because it is part of the course of history, and because it is motivated by information and freedom, the revolution will continue to progress.