Tunisia, Tunisia – President Case Said’s long-promise of the anti-corruption war is not the dramatic whiteboard his followers have been hoping for.
On Sunday, Said controlled the country by invoking Article 80 of the Tunisian Constitution. This is a welcome move aimed at freeing the country from crises caused by political instability and economic fragility, all of which are due to The coronavirus pandemic has made the situation worse.
After the announcement, the President quickly fired Prime Minister Hichem Mečić and other ministers, promising to completely change the political system and eradicate corrupt politicians.
On Sunday night, his bold statement was welcomed by noisy street celebrations across the country.
After emptying the parliament building and ordering the army to deny entry to the Speaker of the Parliament and leader of the Ennahdha Party, Rachid Ghannouchi, he extended the curfew and imposed restrictions on groups of more than three people. He also prohibited politicians and dignitaries from leaving the country.
Since then, the country has fallen into a weird silence.
Nearly three days after he initially announced the special situation and took control of the country into his own hands, Said failed to appoint an acting chief minister, and the promised anti-corruption war against politicians and Tunisian business elites was not as fierce as previously imagined.
So far, no politician or businessman has been arrested. Instead, the media has announced some investigations into politicians and political parties.
A spokesperson for the court of first instance told Al Jazeera, “On July 14 this year, the instructing judge of the financial crime judiciary launched an investigation into the funds provided by the three political parties for campaign activities.”
These parties include Ennahdha, the Muslim Democrat Party, which holds a majority of seats in the House of Representatives; Qalb Tounes, the second largest party in the parliament led by media mogul Nabil Karui, and Aych Tounes, the minority party that failed to win any seats in the election.
Karui was only recently released from prison on charges of fraud.
iWatch is a Tunisian association focused on investigating corruption. It has a team of specially trained observers throughout the country during the 2019 legislative and presidential elections. It expressed disappointment that it took so long for the financial crime judiciary to investigate corruption. Election financial fraud.
“We submitted the report at the end of the election and proposed to the court to investigate in 2019. [but no judicial investigations were opened]”, Tasnim Tayari, IWatch’s legal counsel, told Al Jazeera.
“Recently, we have promoted the disclosure of documents, and it is only now that the Financial Court has started to hold hearings,” he said.
Sayida Ounissi, a politician from Ennahdha, told Al Jazeera that her party has been aware of the investigation process of the Accounting Court since the end of the election.
Le Court de Compte is responsible for analyzing the financial transactions of all parties involved in the 2019 elections.
The court analyzed the transactions of all relevant parties and has issued warnings to a large number of parties including Abir Moussi’s People’s Party (PDL), Qalb Tounes and Ennahdha.
“Final Report [on financial transactions made by the parties in the polls] It ended in January this year and only now is the second step, the financial crime judiciary, which is launching investigations and prosecutions,” Ounissi said.
She emphasized that they are transparent in all campaign activities with ISIE. “Our account is transparent and has been reviewed by ISIE. All our overseas lobbying and media interaction [during the campaign] It’s totally legal,” she said.
Oussama Aouidit, a member of the executive board of the left-wing political party Echaab who supported the Said campaign in the 2019 presidential election, vehemently defended the president’s actions, “July 25 opened a new chapter in Tunisia’s history, and Article 80 has allowed the president to deal with it. This situation.”
Aouidit stated that the political system established after the People’s Revolution of 2011 that overthrew long-time President Zine Abedine Ben Ali has led to widespread corruption in Tunisian society.
“It is not enough to open the files of one or two political parties. We need to open all corruption cases for investigation,” he said.
Amel Wertatani, a Qalb Tounes legal expert and MP, told Al Jazeera, “As a jurist, I know we have to wait for the court’s findings, but I cry for my country.”
“This is not the case of individuals or parties, but the system. You can’t just put a person in jail, you have to solve the root cause, a single investigation cannot solve the corruption mechanism in the political system,” she said.
Tunisian political analyst and author of two books on the recent political history of Tunisia, Armin Snousy agreed that the anti-corruption campaign needs to be extensive and told Al Jazeera that the investigation must be carried out in full, including the president himself.
“I hope they will investigate him too.”
Snuzzi mentioned the report that on March 10, the Achaab Yourid Party approached the Financial Crimes Justice Department to seek an investigation into the presidential campaign funds. However, he said that no investigation has been started so far.
Snuzzi emphasized the urgent need of the entire electoral law and electoral system, “In Tunisia, everyone runs for election first, and then finds money, so it’s easy for foreign actors to give money, and it’s too difficult to refuse money.”