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Democracy Derailed?

Tunisia’s Transition Veers Off Course

People gather outside the Constituent Assembly headquarters during a protest to demand the ouster of the Islamist-dominated government, in Tunis, July 28, 2013. Anis Mili / Reuters

Over the course of just one week, the Tunisian government has made three concerning moves that, taken together, signal a major backsliding in its democratic development. The first occurred on September 11 when Tunisia’s Parliament approved a government reshuffle that enabled the replacement of 13 of 28 cabinet ministers. It was an alarming move, as some of the new ministers have ties to the former regime of dictator Zine el Abidene Ben Ali, who was ousted in 2011 during the Arab Spring.

The second incident took place three days later. After a divisive, years-long debate over President Beji Caid Essebsi’s controversial economic reconciliation law (dubbed the “administrative reconciliation law”), Parliament passed it 119 to 98 with 90 members boycotting the vote. (Many of those who abstained joined protesters outside of the Parliament building.) This law grants amnesty to civil servants who facilitated corruption under the Ben Ali regime without putting them through any sort of

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