RCD election ban stirs Tunisia debate
By Mona Yahia for Magharebia in Tunis – 19/04/11
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.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.