In an unusual turn of events, Tunisian President Kais Saied has ordered the delay of a European delegation’s visit to his country.
The visit, which was meant to take place next week, has been postponed to an undefined later date, according to a statement by the Tunisian Presidency. While the statement did not provide any specific reasons for the decision, it has raised questions about the delicate political situation in Tunisia.
The European Commission had recently announced a substantial aid package of $134 million to support Tunisia’s struggling economy and address the issue of irregular migration. As part of this aid, a delegation from the European Commission was scheduled to visit Tunisia to discuss the implementation of these measures. However, President Saied’s decision to delay the visit has left the purpose and outcome of the trip uncertain.
This move is not entirely surprising, considering President Saied’s previous statements about foreign interference in Tunisia’s internal affairs. In September, he made it clear that he would not accept visits from foreign delegations that seek to play a custodial role over the country. While he stated that these delegations could come to Tunisia to observe the elections process, he emphasised that Tunisians would be the sole observers during the elections.
Tunisia has been undergoing a deep political crisis since 2021, when President Saied dismissed the government and dissolved the parliament. This move was met with both support and opposition, leading to a significant divide within the country.
In July 2022, President Saied managed to pass a new Constitution through a referendum, further solidifying his hold on power. However, his opponents boycotted the subsequent parliamentary elections held in December of the same year.
The delay of the European delegation’s visit to Tunisia is likely to be interpreted in various ways. Some may see it as a sign of growing tensions between Tunisia and the European Union, while others may view it as a strategic move by President Saied to assert his independence and sovereignty. It is essential to monitor the situation closely to understand the implications of this decision and its potential impact on Tunisia’s relations with the European Union.
The visit by the European delegation was expected to provide much-needed support to Tunisia’s struggling economy, as well as address the issue of irregular migration.
Tunisia has been grappling with an economic downturn exacerbated by the political crisis, leading to high unemployment rates and social unrest. The aid package announced by the European Commission was seen as a lifeline for the country, offering hope for much-needed economic stability.