Tunisian exiled reformist to head back home

Moncef Marzouki declares presidential candidacy


A few hours after the fall of the Tunisian regime and the departure of former ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, exiled Tunisian reformist Moncef Marzouki announced his return to run in the upcoming presidential elections.

Moncef Marzouki, head of the outlawed party, Congress for the Republic, announced his return to Tunisia on Tuesday and his intention to run in the presidential elections, to be held within 60 days of declaring the end of Bin Ali’s rule.

The 56-year-old political activist, who spent 10 years in exile in France, had been calling on Tunisians to launch civil disobedience in protest of the government’s repressive measures.

Through videos he posted on the social networking website Facebook and the video sharing website You Tube, Marzouki called for putting an end to Ben Ali’s regime and forming a national government based on a multiparty system.

Marzouki’s online speeches were known for their strong criticism of Ben Ali and his family and his “entourage” who he always described as “dictatorial” and “corrupt.”

Marzouki received his degree in medicine from the University of Strasbourg in 1973. In 1979, he returned to Tunisia and founded the Center for Community Medicine in the southern city of Sousse, cofounded the African Network for Prevention of Child Abuse, and joined the Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH) as vice-president then president.

In 1993, he took part in launching the National Committee for the Defense of Prisoners of Conscience, yet resigned after several of the founders were arrested and the committee was eventually taken over by supporters of the regime.

Marzouki was arrested several times for reportedly propagating false news and forging an alliance with exiled Islamists as well as for reports released by LTDH.

After his release he founded the National Committee for Liberties and became president of the Arab Commission of Human Rights then established the Congress for the Republic (CPR). After the CPR was banned in 2002, Marzouki started running it from France.

(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)