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Moncef Marzouki: The price of a revolution

Tunisia's president warns of forces that are intent on disrupting the country's peaceful movement to democracy.
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2013 14:35

Tunisia is once again in tumult, as the killing of an opposition leader threatens to tear apart a society that was already dangerously fractured.

Shokri Belaid was killed by as-yet unidentified gunmen, just days after yet another spirited public attack on a transitional government that he insisted was putting its religious principles before the interests of the nation as a whole.

The future of the government remains uncertain, but it is the job of one man to head the battle to maintain order and avert chaos.

Moncef Marzouki, a rights activist and former opposition leader, became Tunisia's first elected president in December 2011.

At his election he said: "I am proud to carry the most precious of responsibilities, that of being the guarantor of the people, the state and the revolution".

He returned from exile after the fall of the long-time dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, and pledged to continue fighting for the freedom of all.

As a self-described activist and moderate, he has been central in the attempts to reach consensus between his largely politically secular supporters and the dominant Ennahda movement, founded on Islamic principles.

Marzouki had to cut short a foreign visit to deal with the current crisis in his country.

Just a few weeks ago, in an interview with Al Jazeera, he warned of forces that were intent on disrupting the peaceful movement to democracy and called on all to exercise patience and tolerance.

Events of the past few days show that many prefer to ignore his warning and remain deaf to his call.

But the president still feels that Tunisia is luckier than most 'Arab Spring' countries.

"Because the price of the revolution was not that high," he tells Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna.

"Yes, of course we have had about 300 people - martyrs, and more than 2,000 people have been wounded in the revolution. But if you compare it to Syria, Egypt or even Libya you see that this price was not so high. And I can say two years after, still we have some problems, but the level of violence is not that high too.

"Some people say 'What did you achieve in two years?' I can say that we have freedom of expression, freedom of association, we have had fair elections for the first time. Tunisians feel free here in their country, they feel proud of what they have achieved, but the road is still very long," he says.

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