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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Tunisian President speaks about ‘democratic transition’

Monday, January 14, 2013

The President of Tunisia, Dr Moncef Marzouki, recently spoke at a meeting in Parliament on “Perspectives on Tunisia’s Democratic transition” following the important steps toward democracy in that country. He is a pivotal figure in the evolution of Tunisia’s political transition and the meeting provided a unique opportunity for Parliamentarians to hear firsthand about the events that led to the Arab Spring across the region.

The British Group Intern-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU), who organised the event, asked Meg Munn MP to Chair the meeting. She was joined on the discussion panel by the Deputy Speaker, Dawn Primarolo MP, and the Tunisian Secretary of State for American and Asian Affairs, Mr Hedi Ben Abbes.

The President stressed his desire to see Tunisia develop along a democratic path, which he felt would benefit the Tunisian people, but also be an example to the other Arab Spring states. He also thought it would dispel preconceptions that democracy and Islam are in some ways incompatible. He thanked the UK and others in the West for their continuing economic, political and cultural support.

Meg was interested to hear from the President his views on the future of the governing coalition in Tunisia, and how the political landscape within the country differed from others in the region, in particular Egypt, where progress is proving to be difficult. Mr Marzouki suggested that the road to success for Tunisia will be in reaching compromise between different factions of society, which his coalition partners were committed to achieving.

He also spoke of the challenges of citizenship in post–authoritarian and post-revolution Tunisia. From a personal perspective he said that he had fully expected to die in exile in France, and that to feel proud to be Tunisian once again, was “a kind of miracle”. He was in London to receive the Chatham House prize in conjunction with Sheikh Rached Ghannouchi for their contribution to the democratic transition in Tunisia.

Meg said:

“It was a pleasure to welcome the President of Tunisia to parliament. He responded to many questions about the challenges that his country face and his openness and willingness to engage in debate were very impressive.

While Tunisia is keen to learn from the UK experience there is also much that older democracies can learn from countries in the Middle East and North Africa as they seek to build new democratic accountable institutions.”

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