In 2017, Tunisia had a population of 11.7 million people, making it the smallest country in North Africa. The economy is largely service-based, with tourism and manufacturing being the main drivers of growth. The country has strong relations with its neighbors in the region and beyond, as well as with European nations such as France and Italy. In terms of politics, Tunisia has been considered a model for democracy in the Middle East and North Africa since its transition from authoritarian rule to a multi-party system in 2011. The 2017 legislative elections resulted in a coalition government led by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed. The government is working to strengthen economic reforms and reduce public debt while also addressing social issues such as poverty and unemployment. See militarynous for Tunisia military and defense.
Tunisia. The emergency permit introduced in November 2015 was extended several times during the year and was in effect even at the end of 2017. In combination with the terrorist legislation passed in autumn 2015, the emergency permit had contributed to the country’s security forces using increasingly brutal methods. That’s what the civil rights organization Amnesty International wrote in a report released in February. According to Countryaah.com, torture of suspects and harassment by their relatives was common. According to Amnesty, the security service could commit abuse without the risk of reprisals was a threat to the young democracy. In November, the first violent act of two years occurred in the capital Tunis, described as jihadist motivated. One man stabbed a policeman to death and injured another when he attacked a roadblock near the parliament building. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for frequently used acronyms and abbreviations related to as well as country profile of Tunisia.
In May, the election commission’s chief, Chafik Sarsar, resigned because he did not consider himself able to work “independently and impartially”. The month before, the decision came that the planned municipal elections would not be held until December. Sarsar had previously stressed the importance of holding these elections so as not to threaten the transition to democracy. In October, elections were postponed again, now until March 25, 2018. In October, elections were postponed until March 25, 2018 and in December another time until May 6, the same year.
In September, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed undertook a comprehensive reform of government and appointed a “war government” with the task of combating “terrorism, corruption, unemployment and regional inequality”. Of the 13 new ministers, two were formerly working for President Zayn al-Abidin Ben Ali. A week later, about 1,000 people protested against a new law that granted amnesty to thousands of officials accused of corruption during Ben Ali’s time in power. According to the government, the law was needed for economic growth in the country to accelerate.
In June, a man was sentenced to one month in prison for smoking in public during the fasting month of Ramadan. This is despite the fact that it is not against the law to eat, drink or smoke during this month. The day before, people had demonstrated in Tunis for the right to eat and drink in public during Ramadan.
A new law banning all physical, moral and sexual violence against women was passed in July. A man should no longer be able to avoid being punished for rape if he marries his victim, and women who are subjected to domestic violence should be able to obtain legal and psychological support. The law is expected to come into effect in 2018. In September, the ban on women being married to non-Muslim men was lifted. A man of different religion had previously had to convert to Islam in order to marry a Tunisian woman.
Tunisia was included as one of 17 countries and territories on the EU’s first black list of tax havens, published in December.
Military agreement with the United States
A ten-year agreement on military cooperation is concluded between the United States and Tunisia. US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is touring the region and signing similar agreements with Algeria and Morocco. All the countries concerned are concerned about the conflicts in neighboring Libya and Mali. In 2016, Tunisia officially denied that American drones operated from Tunisian soil, but in 2017, a lawsuit reported in the United States revealed that a US squadron responsible for flying drones was in place.
Gunfire after stabbing in Sousse
Three men die in a shootout with pursuing security forces in the tourist district of Sousse, after a member of the National Guard was stabbed to death and another was injured. The jihadist movement Islamic State (IS) is taking on the attack. In 2015, Sousse witnessed an assassination attempt in which 38 people lost their lives, most of them British tourists. That year, IS took on three serious acts in Tunisia. Since then, the attacks that have taken place have mainly been aimed at security forces in remote parts of the country.
New government approved
Parliament gives the go-ahead for Hichem Mechichi as Prime Minister and for his government. 134 members vote in favor and 67 against. None of the 201 participants in the vote abstained. Mechichi is the ninth head of government since the 2011 revolution.
Expert government on proposals
Hichem Mechichi presents a new ministry, which Parliament is expected to vote on within ten days. He has selected experts, independent experts, rather than party politicians for the ministerial posts. Several of the parties are irritated by the fact that they have not been consulted by the new government-maker, but they also do not like the idea that the country without a government accepted by parliament would be forced to run for re-election. Since the elections were held in October, Mechichi is the third to be appointed to form a government (see 27 February and 15 July).