A Tunisian parliamentary session set to consider the draft reconciliation law witnessed on Wednesday tension and discontent, especially from opposition parties who reject giving Amnesty to figures from the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, including corrupt officials.
Despite that, parliament still approved the controversial amnesty.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered to take part in the “I will not forgive” protests in front of parliament. It was reported that the law had the approval of 117 deputies, which included the exemption of former officials involved in corruption scandals from prosecution.
In this regard, opposition leader Ghazi al-Shawashi said that the parliament “is waiting for the response of the Supreme Council to decide on the draft reconciliation law, and as long as that consultations did not conclude, the parliament session is useless.”
The bill on financial and economic reconciliation proposed by President Beji Caid Essebsi in July 2015 faced fierce opposition from civil society. But debate was postponed after criticism that the original bill benefited business elites tied to the government.
At Wednesday’s session, tensions flared between the ruling coalition and the opposition lawmakers, who said the Supreme Judicial Council had not yet given its answer after being consulted by the parliament on the legality of the “Economic Reconciliation” bill.
Despite the consensus between secular and conservative parties that helped the country’s transition toward democracy, the bill has divided Tunisians between those who want to draw a line under the past and those who say they must deal with past draft.
Since the 2011 uprising, Tunisia has been held up by Western partners as a model of democracy for the region. Economic progress has lagged, though, and corruption remains a major problem in the North African state.
After months of protests, the bill was amended from an original draft which would have also granted amnesty to corrupt businessmen. As it stands, they will be liable to prosecution for crimes committed during Ben Ali’s 24-year rule.