From my perspective,the “unthinkable” broke out of a glorious early spring morning(28th of Feb),which “inexplicably” turned into something close to a revolution.
like the rest of the diaspora I followed the event unfold on the net. but I was there by way of the heart.
not since the bred riots of 84 has there ever been such electrifying moments of hope ,enough to power a powerless people,events that may lead to a genuine change. this burst of energy is not accidental nor coincidental, it is the culmination of many decades of dictatorship and the collection of millions of tiny drops of anger floating in the air which ultimately rained down like a torrent on February the 28th. No , this is not an accident, it is rather the beginning of the end of an era and the dawn of a new one,or so I would like to believe!
Yes, I believe in our ability to make this transitional change to democratic rule( so many times delayed by “circumstances”)a true reality not the regime’s manufactured one. it is up to us how far we want to go.
but Trying to make sense of the contradictory messages emanating from the opposition can be a dispiriting experience. Seeking the demise of Ben Ali and at the same time participating in his electoral show is such an experience ,which necessarily involves the act of analysis,or perhaps of psycho-analysis. and the results, at least in my case, are intimidating,frightening and confusing .no wonder that we so often feel small,disoriented and on the defensive when confronted with challenging experience like the one we are living these days. Charon’s visit and The recent turn of events in Sfax, Tunis, Gafsa and elsewhere involves unexpected tests and challenges for the opposition . In this context, talking about elections means lowering the expectations of students and others who took to the streets in a show of defiance to Ben Ali(the invitation to Charon is just a pretext. even Ben Ali knows this fact).Therefore I think it is ill suited to talk about elections in these circumstances for three simple reasons:
— it is impossible for any party to develop an electoral strategy or program three months prior to the elections and win,only Ben Ali can do that!
— the election are municipal,thus of little interests to most people, especially in this context of public uproar following the invitation of Charon to Tunis. not to mention the divisions it may cause within the ranks of the opposition and the impossibility to use the visit as a leitmotiv in a municipal election,it is ludicrous and stupid.
— participating in the elections will give a signal to the regime that the opposition is after all not “opposed” to his peculiar way of governance ( I mean dictatorial!) and that they just want to remind him that they “exist” and wants to be invited to his show,that’s all! Nejib Chebbi will not drop dead,followed by all members of “ kataib Nejib Chabbi”, as soon as Charon’s plane hit the ground,that is too bombastic a threat to be taking seriously.
So, where from now?
I think the opposition should consider alternative ways in dealing with the two main topics on its agenda: Charon and Ben Ali. needless to say that Ben Ali is the problem which will consume all our effort,Charon’s visit should, in my opinion, be used as an “intensifier” of public anger to keep the momentum going,he’s not the problem .momentum is also about being seen and talked about, and here the opposition is nowhere to be found,there is in fact no public-relation strategy to talk about in the first place. no allies and no source of revenues but a few European radical leftists isolated and broke. In these “circumstances” only a bold action can keep the momentum going,a visit to Beyrouth for example and a meeting with the opposition there[ followed by discussions about “matters of reciprocal concerns”,a joint press-conference…etc],might take the struggle to a new dimension and put the “Tunisian problem” on the global stage. Few days ago, walid Joumblat (moistly eyed and apparently very moved by what he was about to say)said that what took place in Lebanon will soon reverberate throughout the Arab world . a visit to beyrouth by a high delegation(Chabbi&BenJaafar..) from the opposition will promote the interests of both parties,it’s a win-win political move that will open new windows of opportunities for the opposition, new perspectives,perhaps new allies and friends, not to speak of the media frenzy the visit will create ,and that’s exactly what we need .
These are the contours of an idea, a bold move to turn the table on Ben Ali and mix up his cards, and an opportunity for the opposition to reaffirm its role ,both nationally and internationally, as the only democratic alternative to Ben Ali.