Monthly Archives: April 2014

Interim president Foued Mbazaa announced yesterday he will not stay in office after the October 23rd Constituent Assembly elections. The Constituent Assembly is charged with forming a new transitional government and rewriting the Tunisian constitution.

Mbazaa left the door open to future political participation by saying that he will keep his interest in politics. He said he is “confident” about the October 23rd election and hopes for a free, transparent, and democratic process that will produce a constitution to serve as the “legitimate authority” the people have waited for.

Mbazaa made his remarks at the 62nd session of the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR in Geneva.

Mbazaa outlined the political scene in Tunisia for the other attendees, noting that in addition to a large presence of independent candidates, the number of political parties climbed to 115 after the revolution, 70 of which have registered candidate lists.  The interim government entrusted the Independent High Authority of the Election (ISIE) with the organization of the campaign technically as well as logistically.

Concerning the issue of refugees in Tunisia, Mbazaa emphasized the Tunisian efforts to provide comfortable conditions for Libyan refugees, even though Tunisia itself was facing alarming difficulties in its post-revolution phase. He noted the important role of international NGOs in aiding and finding host countries  for the displaced people, in particular a total of 4,000 African refugees unable to return to their homeland.

The  total number of refugees in Tunisia so far reached 900,000 from all over the world, camping for months on the Tunisian-Libyan borders. The Tunisian welcome to all these guests was lauded by attendees of the UNHC event.

Mbazaa’s visit included a meeting with the Council of State of Geneva, Mark Muller, where they discussed issues related to the democratic transition and the future elections.

Source: La Presse

As Tunisia is approaching the Constituent Assembly elections, Kesang Marstrand and her band will hit the stage this Saturday, October 8th with a “Rock the Vote” concert to mobilize the youth to vote and choose their destiny.

A singer and songwriter, born American but Tunisian by heart, Kesang has been living in Tunisia for two years now and has quickly captured the nation’s heart. In her host country she made a buzz on facebook by singing “Aman aman ya mani”  and the Tunisian national anthem on January 14, representing  an amiable voice of the revolution.

The  blend of her music will be  played by three talented Tunisian musicians, drummer Nafa Allem, bass guitarist Hamza Zeramdini and guitarist Aymen Ben Attia. She will sing the songs off of her new album “Our Myth” written in Tunisia and she will be singing some songs in Tunisian Arabic as well.

Marstrand,29 years old, was born in Woodstock, New York to a Danish mother and a Tibetan father . Her multicultural heritage and education are reflected in her music. She plays folk music colored by her own style and composition. 25,000 spectators attended her celebration of her first album “Bodega Rose” in Gillette Stadium in New York. Then, she embarked on her Tibet tour in 2009, and in 2010 played in a series of concerts and festivals, notably the “Blue Balls Festival” in Luzerne, Switzerland, in addition to large venues in Beirut , Malta, and Morocco. Now, counts in her repertoire three albums “Bodega Rose”, “Hello Night” and her last album, “Our Myth”.

Kesang states that the concert will be an opportunity for people to have a good time and at the same time to “be inspired”. It will not be about supporting any political parties. On the contrary, it is a way for people to be politically aware about their duties and role. Kesang says ” politics is not always about arguing”, it can be incarnated in music. Other ways, like art, can fuel people’s wills and make them be involved and active.

“Rock the Vote” will take place this Saturday, October 8 at 8pm at Mad’Art amphitheater, Carthage.

Tickets will be available at Mad’Art or the Clairefontaine  library in La Marsa for 15dt.

The concert will be an opportunity for Tunisians to celebrate their freedom and the new unprecedented freedom of choice in voting.

 

On October 3rd, criminal officers confiscated two old guns, 130 bullets (9mm), 180 bullets (16mm), and a machine to load bullets in a house lived in by a woman from Malta, situated in avenue El Khourtoum in Lafayette.

Criminal officers are still investigating the source of these weapons.

The discovery comes amidst rumors of weapons entering Tunisia illegally from the violent situation in Libya.

The appeals court of Tunis decided to postpone the Tunis-Carthage airport affair’s trial to October 17th, and four people who were being held for investigation were discharged.

The prominent case concerns former head of presidential security Ali Seriati and 31 family members of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife, Leila Trabelsi. The accused were arrested at the Tunis-Carthage Airport on the night of January 14th, and they are charged with  illegally trying to escape the country with money and jewelry.

On August 12th, the Tunis court of first instance sentenced them to prison terms with jail sentences ranging from a few months to six years and fines totaling 200 million Tunisian dinars. The public ministry and the defense lawyers have appealed the verdict.

The four individuals that were released are Asma, Amira ,and Rym Mahjoub in addition to Néjia Jridia, Imed Trabelsi’s mother.

The court rejected the defense lawyer’s request to postpone the affair to after the October 23rd Constituent Assembly election and refused to grant bail to the other individuals. Some have already spent a longer time in detention than the prison term they are obligated to serve.

Olympia Capital Management (Olympia Gestion Capital or OGC), a new fund management company, is preparing to launch a new program for the first time in Tunisia which will support small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) facing financial or management troubles.

The company will be working in collaboration with Alternative Capital Partners (ACP), a financial services firm based in New  York dealing with investments, restructuring, capital raising, and bankruptcy advising. The collaboration will be directed by Ms. Selma Bellagha.

20 million dinars will be issued as a start to fund and assist dozens of struggling enterprises. OGC will have majority control in order to implement its ideas. Besides funding them, the company will seek solutions which are sustainable in order to guarantee the progress and effectiveness of its contribution.

A group of well-regarded experts will be in charge of the project, namely Khalil Sellami, Taoufik Thar, Maher Kallel, Mohamed Hammami, Anis Fourati and Adel Fendri. Many of them gained expertise through years of experience and interaction with international companies.

The post-revolutionary company will be established soon as an outcome of an idea that has started small but developed to aim for great future achievements.

Source: WebManagerCenter

Here are the top stories in the Tunisian press, October 3rd, 2011:

On November 10th and 11th, “The End”, voted as the best theater show of 2010, will be playing at the Theatre Jean Vilar, Vitry sur Seine, in the region of Paris.

The theater show was produced by the El Hamra Theater, directed by Ezzedine Gannoun, while the screenplay was written by Leila Toubel.

The second show will be followed by an evening entitled “Art and Revolution in Tunisia”, which will be attended by Ezzeddine Gannoun and Leila Toubel, Yaghoutaa Belgacem, Adel Habassi from the University of Tunis, the choreographer Imen Smaoui, as well as Fabien Barontini, the director of the Sons d’Hiver Festival.

A last performance will take place in Nice on November 15th, as part of the event “Artistic and Cultural Intermingle of Good Voyage”.

Lists Displays: only a few parties have published their lists.

As the electoral campaign period begins, the Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE) has dedicated public space on walls to display candidates list. But two days after the campaign period began on October 1st, many display squares are still empty.

Syrine Cherif, campaign manager for Ettakatol party, explained that her party opened its campaign in Kasserine. “Kasserine has a symbolic significance as the first place where the revolution genuinely took form.”

“Ettakatol is opting for massive meetings and our next tactic is 100% fieldwork,” explained Cherif. “During these three weeks dedicated to the electoral campaign, a good part of our tens of thousands of adherents will cross the country to be in touch with the citizens on the subject of our agenda.”

PDP door-to-door campaign

The Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) opened its campaign in Sfax.

Maya Jeribi, secretary-general of the PDP, explained, “Tunisia is a unit for us, and every region has its feature. But we had to select a region to start from and Sfax has a particular symbolic significance for our Party; it is where we started our campaign against Ben Ali running for the 2014 presidency in August 2010.”

Jribi, who also heads the PDP’s list in Ben Arous, said that the PDP protest in Sfax on January 12th, 2010, several months before the revolution, shook the former regime. She emphasized the weight of Sfax and its position with reference to economic development in Tunisia, saying, “Sfax has always taken a major part in boosting the Tunisian economy, and it is strategically important in bringing back an equitable social and economic balance in the upcoming period of reforms that we have planned.”

PDP has launched a campaign called “Volunteer Tunisians,” starting from July 2011, which aims at raising awareness among the citizens about the importance of taking part in political life and installing democracy. “Now all the adherents of the party are volunteers and armed for the prosperity of our Tunisia,” said Jribi.

Other parties resorted to the event-driven line of attack, such as the 30th September extravaganza held by the UPL in which Slim Riahi, leader of the party, revealed his agenda in straightforward speech. The massive meeting is a certainly effective in terms of grabbing the attention of all parts; however the means followed in order to ensure the huge audience are a matter of discussion.

Tarek Kahlaoui

Regarding independent candidates, ISIE, along with the Prime Ministry and the Ministry of Finance, are supposed to give a sum of 8,200 dinars to each district list, divided into two parts. Tarek Kahlaoui, head of an independent list in Ben Arous, says they have not received the first part yet. With only three weeks until the election, his list will primarily focus on door-to-door communication in an attempt to attract voters.

Increasing competition among the prominent parties could crowd out the smaller lists. Though 26% of Tunisians do not yet know who to vote for, these voters are not going to wait long for the empty squares to fill up.

 

The first Mediterranean Meeting of emerging issues, new economic and social prospects for southern Mediterranean countries, engaged several opinions and analyses of the challenges and methods for success in the future Tunisian economy. More than a few highly regarded experts took part in this meeting who dug into many problems around socio-political issues associated with various future economic models for the post-revolution period.

Mohammed Haddaar President of the Association of Tunisian Economists discussed the  challenges of employment in both the long and short term related to the probable mutations that might occur on the Tunisian political scene in the post election period: “democracy does not necessarily involve economic development, it is all about the political will. We hope that the October 23rd elections will bring about speeches and actions that boost the pulse of economic development”, he stated during his intervention in the closing session of the conference.

Davide Furceri economist at the MECA Department of the International Monetary Fund expressed his opinion about the future of the Tunisian economy and the processes to upgrade it: “the short term challenges are to accommodate the pressure of social demands and to maintain macroeconomic stability. Long term, I see that there is a necessity of having a package of structural reforms to foster partnership between the public and private sectors in order to create jobs and establish an equitable social balance.”

Mr Furceri advocated the substitution of the current subsidization system by more specific and targeted funds for greater effectiveness.

Kenichi Kashiwagi Assistant professor with the Alliance for Research on North Africa whose lecture entitled ‘Returns to Education and their Impact on Income Stratification in Rural Tunisia’ connected the added value of the economy to the educational system: “my current study says that the impact of higher education is significant. However, if agricultural gains were added, in such a case the return of higher education would be significant”,he explained.  Answering the question of the exchanges between Japan and Tunisia our interviewee said: “With such a potential for agriculture in Tunisia, the Japanese will have incentive to invest.”

Mr Abderrazek Zouari the Minister of Regional and Local Development in the Interim Government

The closing session was also marked by the attendance of Mr Abderrazek Zouari the Minister of Regional Development in the transitional government who stressed the need to ascertain an effective and targeted policy of redistribution of funds and start thinking about the genuine definition of regional development. He stated that “the former regime was only concerned in the 150 km highway between Carthage and El Kantaoui, passing over poverty next to the highway and even at 5 kms (Om El Heni) from El-Kantaoui”.


According to the minister the implementation should allow for three vital axes. The first axis is cohesion; consisting of upgrading the disadvantaged regions through enhancing the standards of living. Effectiveness consists of redrawing the Tunisian territory in line with an economic perception: “The existing 24 governorates were delineated in accordance with security, administrative and even personal concerns. Grombalia, for instance, was supposed to be in the existing governorate of Nabeul, but Bourguiba disqualified it because of their alliance with Ben Salah” explained the Minister.

The Last axis of work suggested by the minister is competitiveness which entails the need to perk up the information of the regions, and set apart the National Institute of Statistics as a governmental body.

Inspired by the Polish experience, “if you want to establish democracy start with local democracy”, the minister put forward the launching of a foundation for training focusing on local democracy in the interior regions.

On the political impact on the future of economy and investment, Lahouel Mohamed Hedi Chief Economist in Dubai Department of Economic Development, argued about political involvement in the process of economic development. He cited the lack of audacious propositions from political parties. He also warned the interim government from pleasing the population and making broken promises. “Those who are interested in investing in Tunisia are following the strategy of see and wait simply because the growth will depend on the October 23rd elections and the measures that will be taken after”, articulated Mr Lahouel. He also stipulated that the government needs to be more transparent.

Slah Ben Turkia CEO of Université Centrale and group of Tunisian economic experts (From left to right)

Professor Jamel Trabelsi revealed his vision about the economy which opposes the current orientation of the transitional government. “I am against the social funds for the reason that they give rise to an assisted people”, he said. He suggested instead compensating graduates seeking  jobs with training sessions for them which will better match them with the employment market as a cure for the huge gap between academic and the professional requirements.

Professor Trabelsi also expressed his astonishment about some views expressed during the colloquium: “I was totally shocked when hearing people in high positions still talking about ultra liberalism when the current period requires a social economy orientation with an equitable repartition of wealth. The only thing left to see is Ben Ali’s picture behind some executive administrators during their speeches.’

The fall rains of Djerba have caused flooding issues, exposing a lack of preparation and infrastructure.

The rain quantity in Jerba reached 109 mm in Houmet Essouk, 92mm in Mellita and 95 mm next to the airport after non-stop rain from 7am to 7pm on Saturday.

Water gathered in places like Jerba Ajim and Jerba Midoun, causing problems among illegal buildings and on clay ground that does not absorb water.

Some houses on the shore witnessed water leaks caused by the heavy rain, and Assabah News reported a meter of water flooding Errobaa Souk (a famous market), destroying several stores and their merchandise and about 50 shops selling traditional handicrafts.

The plight lead to problems in traffic and the isolation of  certain cities like Houmet Essouk, plus the flooding of drainage sinks.

Neither residents nor the  sanitation department were  ready for the deluge. The incident unveiled problems with the offices in charge of water cleansing and rain water.