After 23 years of the autocratic rule of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Moncef Marzouki was elected President in December 2011 and was a welcome change for the people of Tunisia. Moncef Marzouki is the kind of leader Tunisia needed for its reformation, both politically and economically.
Moncef Marzouki is the President of Tunisia. He assumed office on 13 December 2011 as the President of Tunisia. Marzouki was born in Grombalia, Tunisia and studied medicine at the University of Strasbourg, France. After finishing his studies he returned to Tunisia in 1979 and founded the Centre for Community Medicine in Sousse and the African Network for Prevention of Child Abuse. In 1991, when the then government violently suppressed the Islamist Ennahda Movement, Marzouki confronted erstwhile Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali calling on him to adhere to the law. In 1993, Marzouki became one of the founders of the National Committee for the Defence of Prisoners of Conscience but he resigned after it was taken over by the supporters of the Government. He was also arrested several times on charges related to propagating false news and working with a banned Islamic group. He then founded the National Committee for Liberties and became the President of the Arab Commission for Human Rights.
In 2001, Marzouki founded the Congress of the Republic which was banned in 2002 after which he moved to France from where he operated and decide on the modus operandi of the party. After Ben Ali’s regime came to an end forced to resign by protesters, Marzouki came back from France and contested in the elections for the country’s Presidency. On 12 December 2011, the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia, which was formed to govern the country and draft the new constitution, elected Marzouki as the President of the Tunisian Republic. 155 votes were cast in favour of Marzouki and 42 votes were blank. These blank votes were a result of the boycott from the opposition parties who considered Marzouki’s candidature for the Presidentship undemocratic. On 14 December Marzouki appointed Hamadi Jebali of the Ennahda Movement as Prime Minister of Tunisia.
Marzouki, aged 66, is respected by many Tunisians for his implacable opposition to the autocratic ruler Ben Ali. As President, he will be the secular counterweight to the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party which is the dominant force in Tunisia now. He was elected President as a part of the power-sharing deal between the Ennahda Party and its smaller coalition partners, Ettakatol and Marzouki’s Congress for the Republic.
Marzouki, aged 66, is respected by many Tunisians for his implacable opposition to the autocratic ruler Ben Ali. As President, he will be the secularist counterweight to the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party which is the dominant force in Tunisia now. He was elected President as a part of the power-sharing deal between the Ennahda Party and its smaller coalition partners, Ettakatol and Marzouki’s Congress for the Republic. Ennahda and its two allies won a majority in the Constituent Assembly when Tunisia held its first democratic election in October. Under the coalition deal, Ennahda’s Secretary General, Hamadi Jebali, will hold the most powerful position, of Prime Minister, while the Ettakatol leader, Mustafa Ben Jaafar, becomes Speaker of the Constituent Assembly.
The arrangement gives the President limited powers. He sets Tunisia’s foreign policy in consultation with the Prime Minister. He is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces but can only appoint or dismiss senior officers in consultation with the Prime Minister. Nevertheless, after the Presidentship of the autocratic Ben Ali for 23 years, Marzouki is a welcome change. He is a pro-people President with a secular, democratic vision, which is what Tunisia needed in these troubled times.