President Moncef Marzouki on Thursday ruled out the risk of Tunisia's elected authorities being deposed, after Egypt's army ousted its head of state, while stressing the need to “pay attention” to popular demands.
“Could Tunisia witness the same (Egyptian) scenario? I don't think so, because it's missing the fundamental ingredients. Here we have a professional, republican army that has never got mixed up with politics,” he said.
Marzouki acknowledged that there was an “ideological divide” between “two Tunisias,” with the Islamists who lead the country's coalition government on one side and the secular modernists on the other, but unlike in Egypt he said they were not in conflict.
“That said, we must understand this signal, pay attention, realize that there are serious economic and social demands,” Tunisia's secular head of state told reporters, at a joint press conference in Tunis with visiting French President Francois Hollande.
“Consensus... is the best antidote to the problems that we see elsewhere,” Marzouki added.
Hollande expressed words of encouragement for Islamist-ruled Tunisia, during the first visit by a French president to the birthplace of the Arab Spring uprisings since its January 2011 revolution.
The North African country has over the past two years suffered a wave of violence linked to radical Islamists and is battling political instability, with tensions over the draft constitution boiling over in the National Assembly earlier this week.
“What is clear is that for you there is also an obligation to succeed because you are an example, a reference for many other Arabs,” the French president said, while describing the transition in Tunisia as “controlled.”
Tunisia’s Marzouki says no risk of Egypt contagion