Tunisia: insults, sit-ins, settling of accounts ... the hectic week of the new Parliament - JeuneAfrique.com
The Assembly of People's Representatives (ARP) had included in its program of the week of 2 December the review of the 2019 supplementary finance law and the 2020 finance law. The hemicycle, however, had to deal with a very different urgency: to ease tensions between deputies of the Free Destour Party (PDL) and those of Ennahdha.
By calling the representatives of the PDL "bums" and "bandits" in plenary session, Ennahdha MP Jamila Ksiksi set fire to the powders, triggering an escalation in insults. The response was indeed immediate: on the social networks, supporters of the PDL made racist statements against the Islamist, the only black parliamentarian in the Chamber, arousing strong indignation in the ranks of the party to the dove. The exchange of jokes and names of birds could have ended with the close of the session, but the PDL decided otherwise.
Lead by its president, Abir Moussi, the parliamentary group started a sit-in, demanding an apology. Camp on his positions for seven days, he finally won, the PDL considering at a press conference that "the insults were denounced". Never seen under the dome of Bardo, yet accustomed since 2011 to the skirmishes between elected.
Chaos revealing a deep antagonism
Far from being anecdotal, this series of incidents is revealing of the cleavage that fractures the Tunisian political landscape. The antagonism between the PDL, heir to the movement of Ben Ali's party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), and the Islamists of Ennahdha - winners of the last legislative elections - seems irreversible. Despite the revolution, despite the time that has elapsed since, the two political families are always ready to dig up their old grievances. A register that is translated politically by a visceral hatred: for Ennahdha, the PDL is the enemy to kill this beginning of the legislature, and vice versa.
It's not an assembly anymore, it's a circus. We elected clowns and a puppeteer
The President of the PDL, only female candidate in presidential election last fall, is the main target of Islamists. "We searched well, but she has no pan," nevertheless tempers, under cover of anonymity, a member of the Congress for the Republic (CPR, ally of Ennahdha during the Constituent, in 2012).
The rat race in the hemicycle, the photos of the deputies plunged into darkness following a power cut ordered by the presidency of the Assembly, the threats of expulsion with the use of the police force, the the gap of the journalists ... So many incidents that have been the mainstay of the media, and largely contributed to degrade the image of Parliament. "It's not an assembly anymore, it's a circus. We elected clowns and a puppeteer, "said a former MP.
The media coverage of this sit-in relegated the work of the ARP to the background. These, however, related to the approval of the finance law 2020, which was to be adopted by Tuesday, December 10.
Suspicious, some observers believe that the altercation with the PDL would be a maneuver to conceal a more in-depth analysis of the state budget, and not reveal all the dysfunctions. It is clear that indeed, the finance law was finally adopted without having really been studied.
The soap opera of the ARP also had other effect, more unexpected. More than ever since the inauguration of the new Assembly, Abir Moussi is rebellious: it ostentatiously displays his rejection of the Islamists of Ennahdha, and goes so far as to refuse to pronounce the title of president of Rached Ghannouchi when she speaks. A provocation difficult to accept for those who, after years of secrecy, managed to free themselves from a sulphurous reputation.
However, Rached Ghannouchi preferred to forfeit: he remained silent, while a statement from the Bureau of the Assembly condemned the remarks made by members of his own party against Abir Moussi.
A revoluctible match, which increases the popularity of the president of the PDL, while creating a precedent that could be inspired by other parties, including those who have not stood together with Abir Moussi. "If Abir did it, others will be tempted to dare, and this is a bad omen for the authority of the president of the ARP," said a journalist attached to the ARP.
But beyond the authority of the perch, it is the entire structure of Parliament that could be questioned soon. If it was validated, popular consultation that President Kais Said wants to launch would lead to a complete overhaul of the institutional system. Including the principle of territorial representation, this would result in the disappearance of Parliament in its current form.
This article appeared first on YOUNG AFRICA