Tunisia, home to the first and arguably most successful of the 2011 Arab uprisings, appears to be backsliding in its transition to democracy. In mid-2021, President Kaïs Saïed consolidated powers in the executive through a series of steps widely regarded as unconstitutional. Opposition is growing though the president retains a strong social base. The polarisation could threaten stability, particularly as it intersects with persistent budgetary woes and popular discontent over economic and other inequality. Crisis Group works to help resolve these tensions in a country that remains critical for security in North Africa as a whole.

CrisisWatch Tunisia

Unchanged Situation

Uncertainty regarding upcoming elections persisted as opposition faced crackdown and youth violence surged in capital Tunis. 

Election uncertainty remained as opposition members faced continued detention. Ahead of Sept-Oct presidential elections, President Saïed 6 April declared he will not let candidates supported by foreigners run, alluding to Mondher Zenaidi, minister under former President Ben Ali currently in exile in France, who in March implied he would run in polls; opposition continued to fear Saïed will limit competition or even cancel elections on claim that his mandate reset in 2022 following adoption of new Constitution. National Council of Regions and Districts 19 April held first session and elected Imed Derbali president, amid fears it may be used to subvert parliament since its prerogatives remained murky. Uncertainty continued over fate of fourteen members of opposition jailed since Feb 2023, with their period in pre-trial custody over the fourteen months maximum under Tunisian law; judges 12 April accused 40 people, including the fourteen opposition members, of terrorism, with accusation chamber to confirm or deny accusations 2 May. Opposition coalition National Salvation Front 30 April announced intention to boycott presidential elections unless political opponents freed and judicial independence restored.

Youth violence surged in Tunis amid worsening economic crisis. After three people early April self-immolated in separate incidents due to deteriorating living conditions, youth gangs 12-13 April clashed in several districts of capital Tunis, resulting in knife injuries and unprecedented degree of violence. Judiciary 15 April delivered 30 detention warrants, with unusually high number leading to fears of criminal group retaliation against police including through riots and clashes. 

In other important developments. Saïed 1 April declared audits into public sector showed many jobs had been obtained through corruption or favouritism, though removal of thousands of public servants could lead to frictions. Govt 22 April hosted Algerian and Libyan heads of state for high-level discussions in Tunis over stronger regional integration (see Algeria).

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In The News

25 بان 2024
Italy is trying to reinforce the bilateral relationship to convince Tunisia to continue to collaborate on [irregular migration]. Jerusalem Post

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa
19 جۆزەردان 2023
The Europeans feel that they are on the front line of instability in North Africa and in the Mediterranean. Euronews

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa

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Michaël Béchir Ayari

Senior Analyst, Tunisia

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