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RCD election ban stirs Tunisia debate

By Mona Yahia for Magharebia in Tunis – 19/04/11

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Tunisian activists were unanimous in calling for the abolition of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD). However, last week's decision to bar representatives of the former ruling party from political life altogether is raising doubts among some activists and politicians.

It "will lead to an imbalance in the political scene and won't be for the benefit of the new parties, but for a certain party or group," Interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi said on Saturday (April 16th).

The High Commission for the Realisation of Revolutionary Goals on April 11th prohibited senior RCD members from participating in July's constituent assembly elections. Caid Essebsi called for carefully considering and discussing the decision before its final ratification by the government and interim president.

While some consider the exclusion a natural outcome of the monopoly that the party has exercised in politics since independence, others maintain that it can only be made in accordance with law and against those who are legally convicted.

"I believe that exclusion shows the weakness of opposition or their fear of the ballot box," political analyst Noureddine Ben Ticha told Magharebia. "If the people don't want them, they won't vote for them. Moreover, Ben Ali's regime was a unilateral regime. Therefore, the question now is: why this collective exclusion?"

He added that "when citizens feel disappointed and don't find clear political stances, they resort to punitive voting; something that encourages the religious right-wing extremism or left-wing extremism, especially since the opposition parties in Tunisia are weak as compared to Ennahda Movement, which is a well-organised group".

Others, meanwhile, dismissed the "Islamist danger" argument as an attempt to restore former RCD members to decision-making positions.

"They are now protesting against their exclusion from elections," said Najat Laabidi. "Have they forgotten that they excluded an entire people from politics? And have they forgotten the torture, displacement and imprisonment that anyone with a different opinion has suffered at their hands?"

"You've ruined my life, caused woes to my family and all my relatives," Saied Ferjani wrote in his Facebook post. "You then destroyed my people, pillaged them and turned my country into an estate of yours and the head of your gang, and now you're talking about exclusion and reconciliation?!"

For his part, Workers' Communist Party spokesperson Hamma Hammami said that exclusion is an ordinary measure that was taken in all countries that underwent similar democratic experiences.

Hundreds of former RCD members on Saturday staged a protest at the Human Rights Square in Tunis, where they called for reconciliation and billed the exclusion it as "a tool to establish dictatorship".

The demonstrators issued a statement in which they confirmed their commitment to resisting what they described as exclusion attempts hatched by some parties that want to monopolise the political scene. They were later dispersed by their opponents.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    Liamine 2011-4-25

    When a political party’s leaders and/or members are proven to have committed grave breaches of the law, its dissolution may be pronounced by a competent authority (the courts) via the required legal format. If this sort of punishment does not exist, then immorality will incrust itself into the political morality. In any event, the decision belongs to the Tunisian people who suffered from the actions of this party, which was a caricature of a dictatorship that had nothing democratic about it.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    سامي بايونس 2011-4-23

    The R.C.D. is over. The R.C.D. is over. The revolution of Tunisia doesn’t need party disagreements as much as it needs speeding up the establishment of individual economic stability. This means that talking about national reserves means nothing for the individual especially if he is jobless and unstable. So stop talking about slogans and come with realistic solutions! Sami Bayounes.


  3. Anonymous thumb

    bencherifa 2011-4-20

    They were betrayed by the head honcho. No one can doubt everything doing on and being done behind the scenes in the palace. What desolation of my dear Tunisia! I cry for you, for your people and for your so-called democracy. This exclusion is going to lead to the divide of our Tunisia and will not make us prouder of our children. Let us hope for a better future.


  4. Anonymous thumb

    Gharbi 2011-4-20

    A small, corrupt part of Tunisia’s population wants to defend the RCD to protect themselves. The entirety of the Tunisian people, after suffering under Ben Ali’s and his party’s corruption, say “No!” to the RCD and call for its dissolution. This is a party that denounced Tunisian patriots and played a role in the liquidation of human rights and the political parties that were against Ben Ali and his mafia.


  5. Anonymous thumb

    Anonymous 2011-4-19

    After the disaster which Nazism plunged Germany into, the country was able to begin again on the right foot to become a world power, but only after being de-Nazified. I do not see what interest Tunisia could have in rehabilitating criminals and corrupt people and their accomplice, who betrayed their fellow citizens for decades. I have never had an RCD card. This did not prevent me from breathing. If Caid Essebsi wants to play the revisionist, he needs to be put back in his place. He was the minister of repression under Bourguiba for many years. He has never expressed regrets for this. Quite the contrary.