Hedi Ben Abbes enlightens audience on Tunisian revolution
Hedi Ben Abbes said revolution in Tunisia started with the toppling of dictatorship, whatever its outer shape. The revolution is moving towards true democracy. The Tunisian people want their national identity in accord with their history and culture. There are lively debates going on nationwide on vital issues relating to constitution, economy and human rights. On almost all such issues the trend is to take the middle course. Middle course seems to be grund norm of the Tunisian Revolution.
The Tunisian minister said Tunisia has adopted preamble of the constitution that was in vogue in the pre-revolution days. The preamble defines national identity of Tunisia as being Muslim and Arab. However “Secularism” is no more a taboo for the Tunisian people.
The Tunisian religious political party has been ready to compromise on political issues, accommodating secular view points. Women enjoy equal rights. There is political consensus that they be given due representation in the parliament. Under the proportionate system all parties enlist their candidates on alternate gender basis that is man after woman or one may like to see it as a woman after each man. Hedi Ben Abbes said one tenth part of Tunisian population lives in European countries and sixty percent of the population fluently speak French along with their national Arabic language. The Tunisian culture is a mix of European and Arab cultures. The Tunisians are in quest of composite identity rooted of course in their history and Muslim Heritage.
The Tunisian minister said the religious political party wants parliamentary form of democratic system. Secular parties are for presidential form. There is every chance that there would be consensus on the basis of “compromise”. Tunisia would have a mix: Parliamentary form of government sharing power with President.
He said the Tunisian revolution resulted from a strong reaction to dictatorship. The dictatorship monoplised political power and economic wealth. A political party of wife and husband ruled arbitrarily. There were “Seven Families” with their clutches on sixty percent of the national wealth. Now there are several political parties of all shades. People were denied political and economic rights during the era of dictatorship.
Now they enjoy all freedoms, trying to learn how to use them in positive manner. Even at times media is in frenzy misusing its newly found freedom. “But sooner than later maturity would dawn on people” he believed. His belief rested on his assertion that the Tunisian revolution was indigenous and spontaneous with no foreign pushings or linkages to the west.
Referring to causes of revolution Hedi Ben Abbes said apart from denial of democratic rights the Tunisian people were deprived of economic rights. There were social and regional disparities. They want to overcome such conditions. No Tunisian should be deprived of at least minimum means of livelihood what they call in Tunisian parlance “Bread and Water”
The Tunisian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said his country is aware of dangers of religious extremism and its worst form called terrorism. Tunisia is seeking cooperation of the Maghreb countries to safeguard itself against this menace.
Hedi Ben Abbes said Tunisia wants Maghreb Union on the lines of European Union because the North African countries share history, culture and outlook to life. “The Maghreb Union can take a start from the newly found freedom as EU had started from coal,” he jovially said.