Long before the Arab spring kicked off in Tunisia and forced the departure of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Moncef Marzouki had been fighting for years for human rights in his home country.
As a young man he travelled to India to study Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful resistance. And he spent time in South Africa to study its transition from apartheid.
In 2001, he founded the Congress for the Republic party, which was banned a year later, but Marzouki moved to France and continued running it from there.
Following then-president Ben Ali’s departure in 2011 Marzouki announced his return to Tunisia and his intention to run for the presidency. In December last year, the national assembly elected him to govern the country and draft a new constitution.
Today on Talk to Al Jazeera we ask: Will the promises of the Tunisian uprising become real? And what are the biggest challenges facing the country after the revolution?
“We have had this revolution because of the poverty in some regions. But it’s extremely difficult to find jobs for more than 800,000 people, so we have to look for investments. The problem is that our youths are extremely impatient and I can understand…. Sometimes I have a kind of nightmare, thinking that we can have another revolution within the revolution, coming from the same areas and that we could have dead or wounded in demonstrations,” Marzouki says.
However, Marzouki tell Al Jazeera that writing the new constitution has gone quicker than he expected, especially, he says, after all major political parties agreed that Sharia will not be the main source of legislation:
“I feared that we might have some problems with the constitution because the very conservative part of the society they wanted that Sharia should be the main source of legislation and fortunately we reached a kind of consensus between the most important political parties in Tunisia that we are not going to write that Sharia is etc…so we are going to have a secular constitution, a very good constitution. Because everybody is interested in having and protecting human rights, women’s rights, there is a very large consensus about the constitution.
“I think it was a wise decision to accept to work with moderate islamists. Look what happened in Egypt. Secularists and islamists are against each other and they have a lot of problems to reach a political consensus, while in Tunisia – because we moderate secularists accepted to work with moderate islamists – we have this peaceful transition to democracy. And this is the price we have to pay, otherwise it’s a kind of civil war between secularists and islamists and we don’t want this in Tunisia.”
||This episode of Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen on Al Jazeera English at the following times GMT:
Saturday, May 12: 0430
Sunday, May 13: 0830, 1930
Monday, May 14: 1430
Click here for more Talk to Al Jazeera