Africa

Maintaining democratic freedoms essential for Tunisian economy: Analysts

Economic analysts stress need to maintain domestic stability to ensure economy prosperity, international support

31.07.2021
Maintaining democratic freedoms essential for Tunisian economy: Analysts

By Alaa Hammoudi

TUNIS, Tunisia

Domestic stability and maintaining democracy and freedoms are far more important to the Tunisian economy than pressure or foreign stances regarding political developments in the country, according to experts.

Tunisia is undergoing a severe crisis as Tunisian President Kais Saied dismissed the government of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi on Sunday, froze parliament and assumed executive authority with the assistance of a new prime minister.

Exceptional measures followed by others in the past days have put the country in a cautious calm and anticipation.

Positions of political parties, civil and labor organizations and Tunisians have varied between rejecting and supporting Saied's decisions amid calls for a national dialogue to overcome the crisis.

On the international scene, reactions also varied between supporting the measures of the president and others considered what happened a “coup” against democracy and a violation of the Constitution.

Reactions included the US, which expressed support for Tunisia in negotiations with international financial institutions in a statement by Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary for Africa and the Middle East Eric Meyer on Wednesday during a meeting in the Tunisian capital of Tunis, with Marouane Abbasi, governor of the Tunisian Central Bank.

Tunisia is currently negotiating with the International Monetary Fund to obtain a $4 billion loan. A

long those lines, Meyer affirmed the US' readiness to "support Tunisian endeavors, especially with international financial institutions, with the need to expedite the completion of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to avoid an exacerbation of the economic crisis in Tunisia, which has been exacerbated by the repercussions of the health pandemic."


-External positions not guaranteed

Journalist and economic analyst Jannat Ben Abdallah told Anadolu Agency that she believes "the American position in continuing cooperation with Tunisia is positive and can at least give guarantees at the level of global financial markets and investors, provided that Tunisia does not deviate from its peaceful path."

She said political and economic aspects are intertwined and the current political crisis will have an impact on the economy, especially since Tunisia suffers from lacking liquidity.

Tunisia needs "external financing and the continuation of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund," she said, noting that "negotiations with the international currency have been disrupted due to political and governmental instability."

"As long as developments in Tunisia are unstable, and due to the waiting for other new changes to be issued by the Tunisian presidency, these situations and external reactions must be dealt with great caution," she said, stressing that the stance of the US toward Tunisia cannot be considered a "blank cheque."


- Internal stability more important than external pressures

Economist Reda al-Shakandali from the University of Carthage told Anadolu Agency that "the external positions of the United States or other countries help to get out of the political crisis, but they do not disrupt what will happen internally in the next few days."

Stressing the importance of freedoms and democracy, the Tunisian professor said: "I believe that the current situation and the exceptional measures that have taken place recently will not last, and it does not require external pressure or rigid positions from any external party to change the internal affairs."

"What matters now is the internal situation and the need for Tunisians to agree with each other, regardless of their different political and ideological orientations, before thinking about external positions. It is in the interest of these people today to preserve the stability of the country, which went through a decade in building the democratic path and constitutional institutions," he said.

"As Tunisians, we must continue to build a democratic state, away from the political noise that alone disrupts the building of a strong economy, and does not leave room for the implementation of economic reforms that require political stability and a continuation of the march towards a democratic state, in order to then be able to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund in an assuring framework," he added.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat


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