Six months after the beginning of the revolution for freedom and dignity on 17 December 2010 in the city of Sidibouzid, a new martyr fell yesterday, 17 July, in the same city, in a protest at conditions in the country. This gives protests in the capital and other regions over the last few days a political character expressing the fears of vast sectors of Tunisians, particularly the youth of the revolution, over the fate of the revolution, the delay in achieving its aims, and attempts to circumvent it.
In response to the above events, interim Prime Minister Mr Beji Kaid-Essebsi addressed Tunisians in a speech on Monday 18 July in which he presented the government's version of events, its conclusions and its proposed response to them.
The speech was characterised by a tone justifying what has happened and accusing unspecified political parties without presenting any evidence. Furthermore, it was void of any call for dialogue, nor any apology for the attacks on journalists and other citizens, violating their personal safety as well as the sanctity of places of worship, to the extent of using live ammunition and causing death. It also ignored the demands of the protesters and their expressions of dissatisfaction. The government has thus, through the Prime Minister's speech, abandoned its position of neutrality and its temporary nature as a caretaker government, through its bias towards certain political parties and moving towards a political clash with others.
The undersigned parties wish to clarify the following to Tunisian and international public opinion:
1. Their rejection of the government's stance and their call upon it to review it and to engage positively with public expressions and the demands of the political elite, and their warning against pushing the country towards an orchestrated state of polarisation that replays scenarios from which the country had suffered immensely and paid dearly, They further call for the adoption of dialogue and consensus-building as the mechanism for resolving disputes in this sensitive phase of our country's history.
2. Their defense of the right to freedom of expression, protest and sit-ins, considering any violation of that right a contravention of the aims of the revolution, and their condemnation of all acts of violence and attacks on public or private property, such as the events of Menzel Bourguiba. They further express solidarity with all victims, civilian and security personnel, and call for the release of all detainees and those forced to undergo military service.
3. Their commitment to the date of October 23rd as the definitive date for the constituent assembly elections, and their appeal to all parties and political actors to assume their responsibility in protecting the gains of the revolution and enabling a peaceful democratic transition based on open and transparent electoral legitimacy.
Party for Reform and Development
People's Progressive Unionist Movement
Congress for the Republic Party
Movement of Socialist Democrats
Popular Union Movement