In the midst of the string of strikes, sit in and social unrest Tunisia has been experiencing in the last several weeks, a Tunisian court rejected a decree, passed in 2011 under Mouncef Merzouki, that confiscated the properties and assets of former president Ben Ali and 114 businessmen. Moreover, the court ruled in favor of compensation for Ben Ali and the businessmen. The court based its decision on a procedural error in that the decree was not validated by the Constituent Assembly at the time. The decision, which can be appealed against, triggered a national debate on transitional justice and national reconciliation. While some consider it another blow to the achievements of the 2011 uprising, the businessmen community and political parties close to it welcomed the court’s decision as necessary to jump-start the Tunisian economy, and boost investment in a comprehensive national reconciliation process. President Caid Essebsi seized the opportunity to call for his national reconciliation consensus initiative (announced in last March but overshadowed by the Bardo Museum attack) in order to find a solution to transitional justice issues outside the courts. The political elite and media took note of Essebsi’s intentions in this regard when he made no mention of transitional justice in his inaugural presidential speech, and only focused on national reconciliation. The government is not necessarily in agreement with Caid Essebsi and the business community. At a conference entitled “In order to save transitional justice”, Mohamed Salah Ben Aissa, ministre of Justice, made his opinion clear that he is not in favor of an amnesty for all. During a tour in the south of the country to appease social tensions Rached Ghanouchi announced last week,” it is true we did not set up the revolution’s gallows nor did we exclude or took revenge from our opponents. We called for national reconciliation including businessmen; but this does not mean that we are in favor of the court’s decision rejecting the confiscation decree, which is one of the fruits of the revolution … we will not allow anyone to belittle the revolution and we won’t allow a return of the former regime which we shall confront.”

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Réconciliation nationale: Ben Aissa en désaccord avec Caïd Essebsi?

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