Tunisian official: dismantling Ben Ali’s security was a ‘mistake’

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Dismantling the robust security apparatus of ousted Tunisian dictator was a “mistake,” head of the centrist Initiative Party Kamel Morjane has told Al Arabiya in an interview.

After Morjane’s resignation from Tunisia’s coalition government as defense minister in 2011, he established his political party, which attracted many former members of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s Constitutional Democratic Rally.

Morjane supported the representation of RCD members in post-revolutionary politics.

“We can certainly say so many things about the past - positive and negative - but the mistake, made by the government was dismantling the security organizations in the ministry of interior,” Morjane, who served as the country’s defense minister from Aug. 17, 2005 to Jan. 14, 2010, said.

He urged those “security organizations” to be reinstated and called for prioritizing Tunisia’s national interests.

“We need to have a real program and plan to give those who know the job, do the job,” he said.

“I have noticed that they [security service] are coming back; this is very important. We should give responsibility to our security.”

He said the Tunisian moderate Islamist Ennahda-led government is still novice in politics and lacks experience. “The [performance] of the government is not up to the level that we wished to see.”

But he praised the interior ministry’s performance when dealing with the hardline Salafists in the country.

Tunisia, which is already polarized between Islamists and secularists, witnessed heightened tension after the government recently banned the Salafist group, Ansar al-Sharia, from holding its annual congress.

Despite the ban, the Salafists group gathered in Ettadhamen, a poor Tunis suburb. Clashes between hundreds of the would-be rally-goers and the security forces erupted, leaving one man killed.

“Aalthough I must recognize and confess - particularly in the past few days - when all the problems became all serious, we found that the minister of interior was really taking good decisions and his performance seems to be at the level we wish every member of the government to perform.”

Salafists trying to impose their will through means of violence is not acceptable, he said, adding that the government is the only authority that can use violence “legally.”

“Whoever tries to impose his will with violence, he will be necessarily treated with the same way. However, if people are ready to negotiate, then we are ready.”

He highlighted that negotiations shouldn’t be a way for Salafists to achieve their goal.

“I hope the government really understands that they need special and exceptional measures in order to rule the country in another way,” he said.

He said the economy and the security are all linked. In order to have good economy and thriving tourism, security must be stabilized.

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