Time, support needed to see fruition of Arab revolutions, President of Tunisia tells UN

Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, President of the Republic of Tunisia. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

26 September 2013 – The President of Tunisia, whose country was the first to experience the so-called “Arab Spring,” told the United Nations General Assembly today that despite setbacks and violence in some nations that had experienced such revolutions, the building of stable democracy was achievable, with time, hard work and international support.

“What is being witnessed in some Arab Spring countries may lead some to believe that the liberation project has failed and that the dream has turned into a nightmare,” President Mohamed Moncef Marzouki said during the third day of the high-level General Debate at the start of the Assembly’s 68th Session.

Tunisia has been undergoing a democratic transition since massive public demonstrations overthrew long-standing leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. The actions of Tunisian citizens sparked the wave of popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East that became known as the Arab Spring, which also led to the toppling of regimes in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

“What we must remember is that this Arab Spring is not a final stage, to be achieved overnight, rather it is a road just beginning and looking to further horizons,” President Marzouki added, warning that it could take considerable time, possibly even several decades for them to come under control and take the desired direction.

He acknowledged that it was possible that the Arab Spring could stumble and might indeed fail, but it was the international community’s duty to insist on supporting the current path. The difficulties of building democracy and peace must not cause the world to turn its back on the region.

He said he is committed to fighting extremism and replacing it with positive patriotism, though he accepts that various political and ideological forces are pushing countries in various directions.

He called on the authorities in Egypt to release Mohamed Morsi, as that will help to end the political tensions and stop the violence, returning all parties to dialogue. Similarly, the issues that faced Palestinians showed the immense difficulties caused by Israel’s occupation, he maintained.

His own country, he said, faced the major challenges of terrorism, investment and allowing democracy to take root in the culture while building and defending it at the same time. He was confident the project would succeed, however, stating that elections were scheduled for the coming spring.

The nightmare continued to be real for the Syrian people, however, and a political solution is vital, he said, calling, in addition, for the creation of a preventive arm of the International Criminal Court to end the extreme brutality that was being seen in the country.

President Marzouki called on all influential States to express a new spirit of international community and to support the project of a more active Court, the stop such nightmares.

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