An Arabic version of this article first appeared in Assabah News
I was very moved last month when my colleagues and I looked on in solidarity as Tunisia’s elected assembly stood and sang the national anthem after voting in the new constitution that enshrined government transparency and guaranteed gender equality, including equal representation of men and women on elected councils.
In the three years since my first visit shortly after the January 2011 revolution, the world has watched Tunisia as it negotiated its path to democracy. The role of the Quartet in leading the National Dialogue and brokering compromises to overcome political deadlock was inspiring. Civil society was ready to resume its role as watchdog and mediator. Advocacy groups and the press have been instrumental in informing citizens about the Constituent Assembly and holding members to account, tweet by tweet. Politicians placed cohesion and common goals above division and strife. It has also been a story of remarkable resilience, with Tunisia overcoming the many roadblocks that could have derailed its transition to increased accountability, voice, and inclusion.
As I return for another visit, I wish to acknowledge these successful transformations and pay tribute to the Tunisian people, as well as to congratulate the new government and confirm that Tunisia can count on the World Bank’s full support. I will also take this opportunity to express my sorrow for the tragic deaths that occurred during this period, including the murder of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi.
Tunisia has come so far, and there is much to be proud of, but it will be important now to focus on the economic recovery, which has not yet matched the impressive social and political achievements. During my visit I also plan on emphasizing the importance of tackling this challenge. It is, after all, the economy that will deliver jobs and economic opportunities for the Tunisian people. Economic recovery is at the heart of keeping Tunisia’s transition on track. Now is the time to consolidate Tunisia’s achievements with bold economic reforms that will increase transparency, competition, and equity.