Tunisia Security Updates

Intel Challenges 2nd Edition…

Intel Challenges

ON MAY 25TH THE INFORMATION IN THIS ARTICLE WAS 100% ACCURATE…SINCE THEN THERE HAS BEEN (1) SIGNIFICANT CHANGE:  The electoral panel organizing the poll for Tunisia’s constituent assembly said Thursday it had postponed the vote to October 16…EVERYTHING ELSE STILL APPLIES…UNLESS THEY DECIDE TO CHANGE IT AGAIN

If you are having trouble keeping up with all the security news in Tunisia…you are not alone.  The recent issue regarding the Tunisian elections is a great example of just how complex and challenging it is to obtain and confirm information.

On Tuesday May 24th,  at about 1230pm we received information that the elections would take place on the original July 24 date.  In order to verify the information we conducted a few searches and to our surprise here’s what we found:

  • At 2:09pm Aljazera published a piece entitled “Tunisian elections:  Gone till October“, even more interesting was the sub headline:  The decision to postpone elections in Tunisia will allow citizens to first test their mettle in an empowered society.  The piece was written by Dr Larbi Sadiki who is a Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter
  • At 2:30pm Reuters went forward with an article stating:  “Tunisian govt confirms July 24 election date“.  This information, they claimed came from a government spokesman.
  • Finally, Agence France-Presse (AFP), confirmed that Tunisia will maintain July elections. According to the article, a government spokesman stated:  “We are committed to offering the commission all the means it needs to organize these elections.”

Putting the pieces together

Now that we know the date, we can prepare a game plan for the grand event.  Even if you will not be residing in Tunisia a few weeks before and after the elections, it is important that you understand the importance of this historic transition.

If we read between the lines, we can clearly see that there will be a lot of tension during the weeks leading up to the elections and after the results.  We have to remember that the reason why they thought of delaying the elections in the first place was because the commission in charge of organizing them publicly stated that they did not have “enough time to hold an election on July 24th”.  Among other challenges, the committee pointed to the great hurdle of registering over seven million voters.

Other logistical challenges such as training 6,000 voter registration agents and setting up 1,500 registration centers and 8,000 voting centers, are also going to test the abilities of the committee and the patience of the Tunisian people.

More importantly, if the elections have even the slightest trace of fraud, they run the risk of losing all creditability.  Within any good Risk Management plan, one has to acknowledge the known, the unknown, and the unknowable.  We know the elections will be held on July 24th.  We know that at least (2) weeks before that date there will be an ebb and flow of challenges.  We know that although the elections will be a great challenge for the Tunisian people, they have a great desire for peace and stability.  We know that Ramadan (which tends to have a calming effect on the general population will start (7) days after the elections.  What is unknown is the different levels of reactions both in the days leading up to the elections and immediately after.  Beyond that, in the realm of the unknowable there are many (as Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi stated) “secret forces, that obviously we can not account for.

Still as we prepare for the worst and hope for the best, we can take heart in the words of the brilliant Tunisian poet Abut al-Qasim al-Shabi:

If, one day, a people desires to live, then fate will answer their call.

And their night will then begin to fade, and their chains break and fall.

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