The New York Times said that when Tunisian President Kais Saied seized power, suspended parliament and began ruling the country by decree last July, he pledged to save his country’s failing economy, but Tunisians are still waiting for him to fulfill it. his promise.
The newspaper reported – in lengthy report Vivian Yee, director of its Cairo bureau specializing in Middle East and North Africa affairs, said Tunisian citizens are starting to complain about an economic situation on the verge of collapse, at a time when their president’s seizure of power is casting doubt on the modern Tunisian democracy, which is barely in its first decade.
The New York Times confirmed that as Saeed leads the country towards a national dialogue and a constitutional referendum that observers are likely to strengthen his authoritarian rule, pressure is mounting on him to fulfill his pledge to save the economy, but the main question is: Can he really do so?
The Tunisian government, which is already burdened with debt and a large deficit after years of mismanagement and the epidemic recently – the newspaper adds – has announced that it expects to borrow nearly $ 7 billion this year, so the country will have no choice but to resort to international lenders, including the International Monetary Fund. , who demanded painful austerity measures.
These measures may include reducing government subsidies and reducing the wages of a large segment of Tunisians in light of the high prices of electricity and basic foodstuffs, a formula that could lead to major protests and unrest across the country.
The international lenders also urged – according to the newspaper – President Said to return the country to a path of rule that respects the constitution and includes all spectrums of the political scene, but when it comes to the political road map drawn up by the president, Tunisians live in a state of anxiety and uncertainty.
The New York Times confirms that a series of what the Tunisian president describes as personal “consultations” via the Internet with citizens on constitutional amendments, expected to begin this month, faces doubts related to transparency and security, and the members of the committee that will be entrusted with drafting a new constitution for the country have not yet been appointed.
In addition, the government, which Saeed named, headed by Najla Boden, has not yet begun the logistical preparations for the constitutional referendum scheduled for next July 25, and a special budget has not been allocated for it, and the parliament’s work is still suspended.
In addition, Tunisian authorities have targeted some of the president’s critics, prosecuted and detained many politicians and businessmen opposed to him, and shut down opposition news media over what the government described as licensing issues.
Isaac Diwan, professor of economics specializing in the Arab world at the Paris University of Sciences and Letters, believes that there are great doubts whether the International Monetary Fund will agree to launch an economic program in partnership with the Tunisian government as long as this great political uncertainty persists, noting that “on Exactly the opposite, any poorly prepared economic program with severe austerity will damage the very important political process currently underway.”
The newspaper concludes that the one-man rule that Saeed inaugurated in the country exempted his actions from censorship, as his budget was approved without controversy by lawmakers, and his economic agenda was formed out of sight and his political proposals are still vague, then his authoritarian tendencies and populist rhetoric – according to the expression Issam Ayari, director of a Tunisian company for financial services, frightened businessmen, which pushed foreign investment at the end of the third quarter to its lowest level since 2010.