As Tunisia, the African country where the Jasmine Revolution first blossomed, prepares to draft its fourth constitution, its newly-appointed ambassador to India, Tarek Azouz, has his task cut out for him.
“Tunisia is not known here,” said Azouz on Friday taking time off from back-to-back meetings with industry leaders and academicians in the city. “We have to get to know each other better with cultural and economic exchange.”
In January mass protests, following the self-immolation by a man in the small Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, led to the ousting of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled Tunisia for 23 years. Ali’s exit had a domino effect inspiring similar pro-democracy movements throughout the Arab world with the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and uprisings in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen.
“We made Wall Street speak Arabic,” said Azouz referring to the Occupy Wall Street protestors chanting the Arabic slogan ‘Ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam (The people want to bring down the regime)’.
“It’s all about greed. All men are born equal and should have the same opportunities,” he said drawing up the common ground for the protests.
In Tunisia, he said, it was high level of unemployment, lop-sided growth and unimplemented political reforms that sparked the revolution.
Quelling fears of an Islamist regime in Tunisia with the once-banned Ennahada Party winning a majority in the October 23 elections to form the constituent assembly that will frame the constitution, Azouz said, “No Tunisian will allow an Islamist government”.
He said the new government, which would continue to be presidential in form but with greater separation of powers, would be committed to progressive legislation.
“Each country has its own character. Tunisian character is moderate and modern.”
Though the transition in Syria has been “smooth”, Azouz said that Tunisia viewed the strife in other Arab league nations as their “internal” matter.
“We don’t meddle,” he said adding that they wouldn’t allow others to meddle in Tunisia.
On The Arab League’s role in Syria, Azouz clarified, “The Arab League believes in consensus. We go with that.”