Tunisia | 09 October 2018

Tunisia: Power struggle threatens stability

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Tunisia"s ruling Nidaa Tounes party has suspended the prime minister"s party membership, as reported by Middle East Monitor on 16 September 2018. The move comes after further escalation in a political row between the prime minister and the son of Tunisia"s president, Hafedh Caid Essebsi. Essebsi, who is also leader of the secularist Nidaa Tounes party, is trying to force Prime Minister Youssef Chahed to step down on account of his government"s failure to revive the economy. However, the dismissal has been blocked by the moderate Islamic opposition party, Ennahdha, fearing resulting instability in the country. Michael Bosch, persecution analyst at World Watch Research, comments: "The current prime minister is already the seventh after the 2011 revolution and it is true that his government has not been able to revive the economy and reduce the high unemployment rate of 15%. However, behind the scenes there is clearly a power struggle going on which would seem to be related to disagreements about a crackdown on corruption which Chahed launched in 2017 and involved the arrest of a financial supporter of the Nidaa Tounes party (Reuters, 24 May 2018)." Michael Bosch continues: "Such power struggles could weaken the moderate Islamic path Tunisia has chosen to take since the revolution. For example, Tunisia allows Muslim women to marry a non-Muslim man, which is unique in the Muslim world and makes a big difference for Christian women from a Muslim background in particular. Christians in Tunisia hope that radical Islamic influences continue to be kept at bay and that the current moderate political line can continue. However, such political feuds could well jeopardize this."


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