New chapter in Tunisian democracy: paper

A UAE daily has said that Tunisia is relishing the fruits of democracy after a successful poll exercise that has won praise from leaders across the globe.

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, have sent congratulatory cables to veteran politician Beji Caid Essebsi on his winning the Tunisian Presidential elections and on the success of the voting process.

In today’s editorial, The Gulf Today said that Essebsi himself has vowed to completely turn the page on the past and look to the future. Now 88, he had held key posts under Habib Bourguiba, the father of Tunisian independence, and also under Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who was deposed in 2011.

A lawyer, Essebsi became Prime Minister after the revolt and organised parliamentary elections later that year. Before the Presidential election, the first time Tunisians had been able to freely choose their own head of state, he denied that his age was a hurdle to assuming the nation’s highest office. He has consistently maintained that youth is “a state of mind.” “A true leader in a democracy takes victory and defeat in his stride. Essebsi’s opponent, Moncef Marzouki, a long-exiled 69-year-old former rights activist, displayed commendable spirit when he called for calm after hundreds of his supporters clashed with the police for two days disputing the results,” the paper added.

Marzouki urged supporters on national television to respect the result and return to their homes in the name of national unity. These are the rules of the democratic process.” “While the success of the poll process is a cause for celebration, there are issues that call for immediate attention. The economy is struggling to recover from the upheaval of the revolution and there are fears widespread joblessness will cause social unrest. Essebsi, in that sense, has his hands full,” concluded the Sharjah-based daily.