Tunisia Discusses Government Change, Bank Announces Business Aid
The Council of Elders recommended to Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali that he form a national unity government rather than a government of technocrats. They said the formation of a unity government would enhance the legitimacy of Tunisia’s political institutions by being more inclusive of a variety of political views. The Council was also critical of the National Constituent Assembly’s failure to draft a new constitution or electoral law. In contrast, the ruling Ennahda party said it could leave power if Jebali continued to pursue the formation of a government of technocrats. The group’s announcement marked a shift in its attitude toward Jebali’s plan, indicating an openness to cooperating with implementation of the proposed government.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Financing Small and Medium Enterprises (BFPME) has partnered with a private investment arm of the Islamic Development Bank to aid small companies in Tunisia. The plan is based on Islamic financing, which adheres to the religious principle of a ban on interest and is increasingly popular among North African governments. The fund will focus its efforts on urban areas and hopes to increase foreign investment, create jobs, and develop Islamic banking in the country.
The International Crisis Group has published a report titled “Tunisia: Violence and the Salafi Challenge.” The report identifies three key problems in Tunisia - the marginalization of Tunisian youth and the role of Salafism as a way out; the ambiguity of Ennahda’s stances and Tunisia’s religious identity; and the jihadi threat that faces the country. ICG recommends an investigation of Chokri Belaid‘s assassination and a dialogue including all parties to create a clear plan for the next stage of the transition in order to mitigate the current crisis. The report also suggests the adoption of policies giving social and economic support to unprivileged communities, promotion of a version of Islam rooted in the country’s reform movement, and implementation of new training programs for security forces and law enforcement.