Daily Archives: November 22, 2011

Mustpha Ben Jaafer folding his hands to his stomach while swearing the oath

On November 22nd, 2011, during the inaugural session of Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly, leader of center-left party Ettakatol, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, caused confusion when he did not place his hand on the Quran while taking oath.

Traditionally, after the singing of the Tunisian National Anthem, members of the Constituent Assembly take an oath while placing their left hand on the Quran.

Many observers were surprised by this and wondered what the reasons behind such a stance might be. When questioned by a reporter from radio station Shems FM, Ben Jaafer said, “I did not see the camera.”

The misunderstanding was cleared up, when Ben Jaafar swore on the Quran prior to his first address as President of the Constituent Assembly.

The following is a link to the video:


Source: Business news



This morning, the Tunisian Constituent Assembly held its inaugural session in the historical parliamentary chambers in Bardo. Mustafa Ben Jaafer, from Ettakatol, was confirmed as Head of the Assembly with 145 out of the 217 total votes.

Maya Jribi, a member of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), also nominated herself for the post. In her nomination speech to the Assembly, she promised to work in unison with her colleagues as part of a reliable opposition bloc, while emphasizing the duties and responsibilities associated with such a promise. Jribi received 68 of the total votes. Two votes were cancelled, and two ballots were marked as absent.

Following the vote for the President of the Assembly, nominations were solicited for the two Vice Presidential posts –  one of which must held by a woman. The nominees for the VP posts are as follows: Meherzia Laabidi, Larbi Abid, Salma Baccar, Abdelmounâam Kerib, Nejib Hosni, Noôman Fehri, Moez Kamoun, and Hanen Sassi. One of the nominees, Nejib Hosni, withdrew his candidacy from the elections.

Votes are being counted for the vice presidential position as this article is being written.

There is broad disagreement among political parties represented in the Constituent Assembly over the type of political system that will be adopted in Tunisia. While the Ennahda movement has indicated they have embraced a parliamentary system, the CPR and Ettakatol parties have indicated their desire to adopt a semi-presidential system.

The presidential system, which has been in place for 55 years in Tunisia is characterized by the office of the president who serves as both the head of state and the chief executive. Supporters of the presidential system claim the advantages are stability, decisiveness, separation of powers, and direct elections. The president has a fixed term of office which may provide more stability than a prime minister who can be dismissed at the will of political winds. A president has more power to quickly enact change. The presidency and the legislature are separated into two parallel structures which ensure checks and balances of power. In a presidential system, the president is often elected directly by the people. Supporters say this makes the president’s power more legitimate. Many argue however that the presidential system in Tunisia has been prone to sinking the country into authoritarianism due to the lack of strong legislative institutions throughout Tunisian history.

In parliamentary governments the head of state and the chief executive are two separate offices. The head of state tends to have a ceremonial role, while the chief executive is the head of the nation’s legislature. This political system has a set of advantages. Notably, quicker legislative action and an equal distribution of power by the separation of the executive and legislative branches. Some criticize the parliamentary system for lacking a definite election calendar which can be abused as well as providing a weak check on the governing coalition. A small parliamentary majority can win almost every vote on every issue in the parliament which could be an almost complete winner-take-all result.

In semi-presidential governments the prime minister and the president actively participate in the administration of the state. The president is popularly elected and has more  than just a ceremonial role. The cabinet is named by the president but it is also responsible to the legislature , which may force the cabinet to resign through a motion of no confidence.

The two main secular parties in Tunisia’s new governing coalition, CPR and Ettakatol, are both advocates of this semi-presidential, or mixed parliamentary, system.

“We are for a mixed parliamentary system. The presidential system is a system that we have suffered from for a long time. However, we don’t approve of the parliamentary system for two reasons, mainly the instability that a parliamentary regime can entail…we don’t want the possibility of reaching a similar stalemate that Lebanon found itself in in 2008,”  said Sami Ben Amara, campaign director for CPR.

He added, “We are for a balanced system. The president has to be elected directly by the people. He can serve for two terms, 4 years each. The prime minister has to be assigned by the majority in the parliament.”

According to Sadok Bel Aid, former Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Free University of Tunis, “A mixed parliamentary system is the most suitable system for Tunisia.” He stated that, “The presidential system can easily turn into a regime centered around the president. Our two previous experiences with a presidential system have shown that. A mixed parliamentary system would have made it harder for despots to abuse their powers. It is a system that ensures a balanced distribution of powers. The number of terms a president serves has to be limited to 2 terms.”

Zubayer Shourabee, a member of Ennahda’s Executive Bureau said “We want to make a break from the past, we need to try something new. The presidential system is an oppressive system. The discussion over the choice of system should take place in the Constituent Assembly, not in the government. We will discuss the prerogatives of the prime minister and the length and number of terms of the president’s service later.”

According to Ettakatol’s electoral program the president of the republic should be elected directly for a 5 years term, renewable once. The prime minister is chosen by those who hold the majority in the government.

Sami Razgallah, an Ettakatol member stated “we are advocating a semi-presidential system. It is a moderate regime. We won’t reach a stalemate concerning this issue because every bill is going to be submitted to the Constituent Assembly and their vote is going to determine which system we adopt.”



After the recent rainfall, Tunisians living in Tunis, the Sahel, and Cap Bon areas are complaining about attacks of mosquito swarms. There have been reports of mosquitoes biting through clothing and attacking during the day and night, leaving their victims with unusually large marks.

Samia Fitouri, of Tunis, says that she got bitten by a mosquito three days ago. Fitouri stated that she is worried, as the bite is still red and painful.


Dr.Ali Bouatour, a Veterinairian  mosquito expert, explains  “Aedes is the species responsible. After the bite, some saliva remains in the wound and the body responds with an aggressive immune response causing an allergic reaction.”

While Tunisia is the ground for 43 species of mosquitoes, the Aedes mosquito has a few attributes that separates it from the rest.  Unlike other species of mosquitoes who lay their eggs on water, the Aedes mosquito lays its eggs on damp surfaces in areas likely to be flooded during heavy rains. After taking a blood meal, the female Aedes mosquito can produce an average of 100 to 200 eggs per batch, producing up to 5 batches per life time. Additionally, the Aedes mosquito exhibits a special preference for humans.

Due to the heavy rains of November, the Aedes eggs had the optimum conditions to hatch. In years past, the government spread insecticides to limit the amount of Aedes mosquitoes in the area. However, since the Revolution, local municipal hygiene services have been facing social and governmental issues which have taken priority.

Torture Chambers at the Ministry of Interior Opened to Citizens With Paintbrushes October 7, 2011

Yesterday, November 21st, Foued Mebazaa, Tunisia’s Interim President, met Lazhar Akremi, a delegate of the Ministry of Interior in charge of launching reforms, in Carthage, Tunis.

Akremi delivered a white book about proposed reforms in the security system. He is a lawyer and was nominated as a delegate for the Ministry of Interior on July 2011.

The white book consists of six chapters discussing the restructuring of the security system, including the revision of the recruitment standards of the security forces, their programs and trainings.

The book proposes to establish a national academy of security and an information agency. It emphasizes internal and external dialogue of the police and the unification of governance mechanisms in the administration.

The proposed reforms also aim at changing the controversial Law 4 of 1969, which deals with public meetings, parades, and protests, and sets the conditions for the intervention of security agents.

The book proposes to redeploy security forces on the regional level and to have a municipal police under the control of the president of the municipality.

The white book intends to usher a new era and radical change to improve the relationship between the Ministry of Interior and Tunisian citizens, who underwent long years of aggression, tension and submission to the security force during the regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Educators claim that they are having difficulties dealing with disobeying students. Since the end of the Tunisian Revolution, teachers began complaining about the disrespectful behavior of students. High school students especially, have created new conditions in educational institutions that make work and  normal course nearly impossible.

Fethi Abroug, middle school principal, told Tunisia Live that he noticed a change in the behavior of his pupils.” They have become so disrespectful, they are not afraid of the administration any more. They do not care of they get suspended, they always steal the annual attendance sheet, they answer their teachers rudely, and they are no longer afraid of authority in general.” Abroug added, “I do not know if this behavior has to do with the revolution, but this is not acceptable. We are trying to be more understandable, but they need to respect their teachers and the administration.”

According to Mohamed Mtaallah, a middle school teacher in Kelibia, “There is definitely change in Students behavior, in a bad way, they no longer care about the administration and the rules. They are not afraid of them anymore” Continuing, “Teachers are being attacked by parents even though their children were wrong, especially if the teacher are known for being followers of the RCD (Ben Ali’s Regime).