Democracy not enough in tough economic times, says Tunisian president
Tunisia’s President Moncef Marzouki said on Sunday that he understands the frustrations of the Tunisian people concerning the chronic unemployment that is gripping the newly-democratic country. During a press conference at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa he said he hopes to see the country emerge from dire economic straits in the next year.
“We are proud to have a new democracy but we do know it’s not enough. There are huge expectations of the population and we need to give employment to about 800,000 people. This is a huge challenge,” Marzouki told journalists in the Ethiopian capital.
He admitted that Tunisia would like face a tough year economically, but said that economic well-being was not completely within the control of Tunisia itself.
“The solution does not depend exactly on Tunisia, we depend on the Libyan market. So if Libya becomes stabilised in a short time, then there is a chance for us,” he said.
Marzouki said that deposed president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali should be brought back from Saudi Arabia, where he would be assured of a fair trial.
“We do not understand how this man can be considered as a political refugee while we do know that he has been a harsh dictator. We know he was against Muslims, against Islam, against his people, and we consider him as a criminal and we think it is our right to get him back in Tunisia and to put him on trial,” Marzouki said.
Tunisia has formed a coalition government, consisting of Islamists, moderates, and leftists. Marzouki will hold office until later this year and oversee the creation of a new constitution and fresh elections. A new coalition assembly was elected in the country’s first free elections last October, which is necessary, said Marzouki.
“The Islamists, Ennahda, cannot rule the country by themselves. The secular movement cannot rule Tunisia by itself so we have to have this coalition and the coalition is probably going to work,” he added, saying that it could become the model for other Arab states.
“We hope that we can probably have, in 2013, or 2014, the beginning of the [economic] solution. But now we have to tackle the problem and I am afraid that we will have some troubles in the year to come. But we don’t have any choice,” he said.