Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Gregory W. Meeks, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Ted Deutch, Chair of the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism Subcommittee, led 21 Members in signing a letter to Secretary Blinken urging the State Department to take steps that would support good governance initiatives in Tunisia to address its ongoing democratic backsliding.
Below is an excerpt of the full letter, which can be found here:
“As the Biden Administration engages with Congress on the FY2023 budget, we urge the State Department to prioritize programs that support a restoration of democratic governance, strengthen the rule of law, ensure stability, and protect space for local civil society and diverse Tunisian voices when considering U.S. assistance to Tunisia.
“The U.S.-Tunisian bilateral relationship has expanded since national protests ousted the authoritarian regime of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali over eleven years ago. In the years since, the Tunisian people have invested in political inclusion and reform, strengthening judicial institutions, supporting independent media and civil society organizations, and participating in several democratic elections and peaceful transfers of power. The power of Tunisia’s positive example of peaceful democratic pluralism must not be a casualty of the real frustrations many Tunisians express over ongoing economic stagnation, high-level corruption and abuse of office, and police brutality. Only a legitimate and accountable government can effectively address and overcome these deep-seated grievances.
“We have witnessed over the past eight months a clear and tangible erosion of the democratic institutions that the Tunisian people have spent over a decade building. We remain concerned that President Saïed’s proposed timeline for constitutional reforms and legislative elections does not include avenues for inclusive dialogue with diverse political and civil society voices, and solidifies his intention to maintain the suspension of parliament until at least December 2022. The president’s public statements rejecting the principle of a directly elected national legislature and characterizing critics as traitors are deeply concerning and raises serious doubts about his commitment to democratic checks and balances in any new Tunisian political system to emerge from this process.”