Roundtable Discussion: Tunisia's Current Political Trends and the Future of US-Tunisian Relations

September 27, 2012 | 12:00 AM


"Tunisia's Current Political Trends and the Future of US-Tunisian Relations"
with Sheikh Abdelfattah Mourou, Vice President, Nahdah party

On September 27th, Sheikh Abdelfattah Mourou, the Vice President of Tunisia's ruling Nahdah party, spoke about the current political trends in Tunisia and the future of US-Tunisian relations. Mourou, a founder of the Nahda party in the 1970s, ran in Tunisia's 2011 elections as an independent, but recently returned to the party. He explained that Tunisian voters want their elected officials to be accountable, and a party affiliation was an important way to achieve that. Nonetheless, he returned to the party on the understanding that he would maintain his own beliefs. 

Mourou expressed concern that some Nahda members saw the political contest as a "winner take all" system, whereas he wants his party and government to have a modernist vision that is inclusive and represents all Tunisians. He accepts that there is a spectrum of views within Nahda, but hopes that members will move in the direction of a progressive vision of the state for the future. On the Constitution and women's rights, he informed the roundtable that controversial language about women "complementing" men was removed, and that in legally binding provisions, full equality of men and women as citizens has been retained.

Mourou was clear that Nahda's vision was distinctly different than that of the Salafi elements in Tunisian society, who do not have a program for economic, social or other policies. But he did support the notion that the Salafis should form a party in order to avoid them operating as a clandestine organization; better that they operate in the open, and that Nahda or other officials are able to identify and interact with the group's declared leaders. Mourou deeply regretted the recent attacks on the American Embassy and school, but he hoped that it would lead to greater unity of effort of Americans and Tunisians to combat extremism.

This roundtable discussion was hosted by Pathways to Progress: Peace, Prosperity and Change in the Middle East.