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

Crackdown on free speech continued with judicial harassment of journalists, and IMF for first time placed Tunisia on so-called black list.

Repression of dissent continued. Tunis court 10 Jan gave journalist and columnist Zied el-Heni six-month suspended prison sentence for allegedly insulting minister during radio broadcast, and released him from prison, where he had been held since 28 Dec. Authorities 3 Jan arrested Al Jazeera journalist Samir Sassi on suspicion of belonging to “terrorist organisation”, before releasing him few days later. Interior ministry note leaked on social media 13 Jan requested opening of investigation against twenty public figures (most of whom are likely to stand in presidential election due to be held by year’s end) on allegations of money laundering. 

Protesters took to streets on different occasions. Demonstration in support of Palestinians 11 Jan took place in front of South Africa embassy in capital Tunis; protesters expressed support for Pretoria’s genocide case against Israel at International Court of Justice. Hundreds of people 14 Jan demonstrated in Tunis to mark anniversary of 2011 uprising that led to ousting of then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and to demand release of jailed opposition leaders. Demonstrations 17-18 Jan broke out in El Hencha village, north of Sfax city, after boat carrying 37 residents attempting to cross Mediterranean Sea went missing.

In another important development. Tunisia 5 Jan appeared on International Monetary Fund’s “negative list” of countries with over eighteen-month delay in completion of consultations with financial institution. President Saïed late Jan extended state of emergency by eleven months until 31 Dec 2024. 

Continue reading

In The News

19 Maj 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

Latest Updates

Our People

Michaël Béchir Ayari

Senior Analyst, Tunisia

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.