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Interim Prime Minister's TV debate

Published the:  30/03/2011

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March 30, 2011 - TAP  - "Top priority in post-revolution Tunisia consists in restoring security for insecurity can only have negative effects on investment, economy and tourism", declared Interim Prime Minister Béji Caïd Essebsi on Wednesday evening.
In a TV debate broadcast live from his office by the three TV channels, namely "national TV 1", "Hannibal TV" and "Nessma TV ", Caïd Essebsi outpointed that protests, sit-in and strikes are no longer tolerable and cannot go on even if they are based on legitimate claims, stressing that firm measures will be taken to cope with such a situation.
He also said that the Interim Government had already started working out the necessary programmes for shadow areas, expressing its commitment to meet the expectations of people and especially the underprivileged among them.
These programmes will be announced shortly and the government members will visit the regions targeted to better explain them.
On the other hand, the interim Prime Minister said that the state budget will be restructured to allocate additional funds to regional development, adding that the new budget which will be announced next may, will give priority to inland areas.
He reminded that the government had decided important incentives aimed to recruit about 20 000 people in the public sector and 20 000 more in the private sector for the current year, with priority given to the university graduates.
Answering a question about the controversy aroused by the composition of the higher authority for the achievement of the revolution objectives, political reform and transition to democracy, Caïd Essebsi said that the enlargement of this composition is « undeniable » since it will allow to forge ahead on the right track but would be unacceptable if those who claim it aim to hinder this project.
He outlined that this authority is independent, that he had never interfered in its works and that he did not intend to do so.
As regards the possible postponement of next July 24 elections for a constituent assembly, the interim PM said the decision made in this regard is irreversible, the date set is reasonable and the adoption of the election law does not require a long time in so far as the draft law is under achievement. He went on saying that anyone who tries to hinder the work of the higher authority for the achievement of the revolution objectives, political reform and transition to democracy will assume full responsibility for that and urged all the parties to give proof of responsibility and public-spiritedness in this situation so that the revolution might achieve transition to democracy without for all that being exposed to disorder and failure.
Answering a question about the efforts made by the interim government to return the property stolen by the former regime, the PM said that a law providing for the seizure of the assets and property of the ousted president had been adopted and a commission to investigate Tunisia's assets and funds abroad had been set up but this requires long-term efforts .
He also stressed that anyone who committed crimes against Tunisia and its people or harmed its reputation will be prosecuted, outlining in this context that legal action had been taken against several officials, including in the first place the ousted president who has committed serious crimes, affirming that there is no intention to conceal the truth.
About the dissolution of the former RCD ruling party, he noted that justice had ruled in this case but there's nothing that could prevent banning this party members from politics for a determined period, thus alluding to the RCD officials who have recently formed new political parties or joined other parties.
Answering a question about the reasons why he had appointed a new Interior Minister, Caïd Essebsi affirmed that the former Minister had not been dismissed and that it was a ministerial reshuffle which comes within his remit.
On the other hand, he denied that there was any clash between the national security services and the national army, saying that the resort to the army is necessary in case of need especially during crises such as in the events of January 1978 , the uprising of 1984 or the events of Soliman some years ago.
As to the security drift that happened in the country after the revolution, the Prime Minister said it was a logical effect since the people had been for long years under the yoke of dictatorship, stressing in this regard the urgent need to restore security.
Speaking of the current economic situation, notably in light of Tunisia's loss of a big market like Libya due to the uprising there, the fleeing of investors and the failure of attempts to save the tourist season, Prime Minister Caïd Essebsi said the government had worked out a short-term programme likely to reassure the Tunisians.
He also highlighted the initiatives of some friendly states to help Tunisia in these difficult circumstances, specifying that "Tunisia refuses funds that not contribute to the financing of useful projects".
Answering a question about Tunisia's stance over the events in Libya, he said «this stance takes into account the interests of Tunisia and meets the tenets of the country's foreign policy , including notably compliance with international law», adding that the UN security council had taken a decision that all member states , including Tunisia, have to implement. As regards the concomitance of Tunisia's announcement about the freezing of Kadhafi's assets with the release By Libyan officials of Tunisian journalist Lotfi Messaoudi, the PM said that Tunisia had made its utmost to settle this issue and had received promises to free the journalist.
As to the role of Tunisian diplomacy in the next stage, he outpointed that Tunisia is a small country with regard to its surface and poor natural resources but a great one with regard to its stances , and urged Tunisia's people to redouble efforts to enable the country recover its position on the world scene, affirming that the success of the tunisian revolution might contribute to that.
Besides, he spoke of illegal immigration and especially of Tunisians' immigration to the italian island of Lampedusa, stressing the urgent need for the European Union to help Tunisia solve this problem.
At the end of the TV debate, the interim Prime Minister reaffirmed personal commitment as well as the commitment of the interim government members not to stand for the next elections.