The International Crisis Group has called on Tunisian President Kais Saied to launch an “inclusive” national political dialogue to reduce polarization and prevent the country from sliding into a severe socio-economic crisis.
In a report published on its website, the Brussels-based organization urged the President to launch a national dialogue that includes political organizations, trade unions, and associations ahead of the scheduled constitutional referendum on Jul. 25, 2022.
The Group, which specializes in settling disputes and providing advice to international organizations, explained that this dialogue would give broader segments of society a greater voice to develop and endorse a program of realistic economic reforms.
The organization also called on the President to review Decree 117 on the subject of emergency measures.
The President presented a political roadmap that did not enjoy the support of all parties and organizations amid demands to adopt a more participatory policy.
Saied launched online consultation, saying that it would be a starting point for a dialogue that would not include those parties that participated in ruling during the last decade.
The government began negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan agreement in exchange for a package of deep reforms, including subsidies, wages, the number of employees in the public sector, and public institutions.
The organization also urged Saied to give Prime Minister Najla Bouden sufficient leeway to appoint ministers and develop an economic strategy to help advance negotiations with the IMF.
The success of the negotiations “appears essential as a means of averting a loan default in the medium term.”
The organization warned of increasing external pressures, especially from the United States and the European Union, by threatening to cut off bilateral aid, which could cause further damage to the economy.
Earlier, Tunisia signed a $400 million loan agreement with the World Bank to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The loan will be allocated to a social protection program for thousands of Tunisians among the vulnerable and low-income groups.
The World Bank said the additional financing would continue to provide cash transfers to poor and low-income households while strengthening Tunisia’s social protection system.
The agreement stipulates that the soft loan repayment period is 17 years, with a grace period of five years and an interest rate of less than one percent.