The Crisis of Autocracy in Tunisia & the Arab World: A Conversation with Moncef Marzouki
Mohamed Moncef Marzouki was the first democratically elected president of Tunisia after the 2011 Arab Spring Revolution. This was a seminal moment in modern Arab history which heralded the onset of multiple popular revolutions throughout the Arab World. Elected to the presidency by the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly, President Marzouki is Tunisia’s first president in modern history to arrive at his position through free and fair elections. Upon the assumption of the presidency, Moncef Marzouki embarked on a mission to “open the doors” of the presidential palace through campaigns of transparency, participative democracy, and by encouraging a safe public space for civil organizations to flourish. During his mandate, Moncef Marzouki was a voice of social and revolutionary activism, calling for civilian rights, curtailment of the security apparatus, and economic sovereignty, and he transformed the presidency into a position of service to the Tunisian public. Occupying a middle ground between secularist and Islamist political standpoints, Moncef Marzouki was instrumental in creating a dialogue between all political, social, and religious tendencies in Tunisia, clearing the ground for an inclusive, stable, and consensus-based Tunisian democracy to take root. In 2019 after being defeated in the presidential elections which saw the victory of the current President Kais Said, he announced that he would retire from politics unless democracy was threatened in Tunisia. In 2021, he was the first to denounce the constitutional putsch of Said who abrogated the democratic constitution of 2014 and seized all powers. Sentenced in absentia to four years in prison for high treason, he lives again in exile in Paris where he continues to fight for the return of democracy in his country and in the entire Arab world.
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