Former US envoy advises Tunisian leader to refrain from following footsteps of late Ben Ali

Former US envoy advises Tunisian leader to refrain from following footsteps of late Ben Ali

Former US ambassador to Tunisia Gordon Gray has urged the President Kais Saied  not to take a leaf out of ex- autocratic Ben Ali’s book, noting that the incumbent Tunisian leader has a disdain for democratic institutions and disregard for the economy.

“In August, I warned that Saied seemed to be following in Ben Ali’s footsteps and expressed my hope that he would not continue to emulate Ben Ali. Saied’s disdain for democratic institutions and inattention to the economy shows these hopes were misplaced,” Gray has written on Twitter.

Gray, a senior US diplomat, was appointed in November 2009 US ambassador to Tunisia by President Barack Obama and left his position in 2012, a year after former and late Tunisian leader Ben Ali was ousted in the first Arab Spring uprising that swept across the region.

Relations between Tunisia and the US have reached their lowest level since July 25 after President Saied seized major powers and suspended the parliament.

Washington has removed the North African country from the tier of democratic countries following the July move by Saied.

In October the Senate subjected military aid to Tunisia to the return of democratic values. The Senate Appropriation Committee explained, in a bill, that granting credit to Tunisia would be subject to several conditions.

According to the proposed bill, the United States Secretary of State is to present a report (within 45 days) to the appropriation committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

In September, Democrat Senator Chris Murphy called on Tunisian President to bring back the North African country to the democratic path and swift end to the state of emergency.

Saied has defended his move and claims it aims at sanitizing the system.

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