In an article published on Wednesday on its website, the project manager of International Crisis Group in North Africa, William Lawrence, explained that the tensions bubbling under the surface including labour unrest and explosive Salafi riots, which attract marginalised and angry youth, are clear signs that the social and economic causes that led to the Arab Spring are likely to inflame the situation again.
“Tunisia has yet to reach the stage of a full Arab Spring; there are no political parties or trade unions eager for another confrontation," he added.
In order to contain social and economic unrest, Director of the International Crisis Group in North Africa called on Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and his team to deal with three main issues; "first, they should deal with the unemployment crisis, particularly unemployed university graduates who have been out on the streets since January 2011. Secondly, Tunisia needs to examine the glaring inequalities that deprive the internal regions from economic development. Thirdly, the government should act decisively to crack down on corruption being carried out by supporters of the former regime."
William Lawrence went on to say that the government, led by the Islamic Al-Nahda Party," fully understands the problems, but it has failed so far to maintain the momentum of change since the elections of October 2011 which has encouraged the most economically marginalised Tunisians to choose uncorrupted revolutionary parties, but at the same time, these parties do not have the experience to form a ruling coalition."
Lawrence gave assurances that despite the dismissal of the governor of the Central Bank, Tunisian financial institutions and companies are working efficiently but warned that in order to keep the wheels turning, the government should implement long-term social and economic policies, calling on the Constituent Assembly to adopt emergency measures to break down administrative barriers that prevent university graduates for getting jobs and hinder regional development. This, he believed, would be achieved by the establishment of a committee to grant quick approval for projects that deal with fundamental problems. He added: "committees of local government and security forces should be activated to resolve local conflicts and violence, especially in the southern and western regions which are the poorest. Following regional consultations, ministers and local authorities should be enabled to implement these recommendations. "
The project manager of International Crisis Group in North Africa stressed the need to eliminate red tape and the degrading treatment which prevented Mohammed Bouazizi and more than thirty other people who burned themselves, from earning their living, adding: “unofficial sector activities should be circulated without the loss of life … These workers should contribute through taxes to the new economy, and promote governmental accountability. He added that the country should simplify the procedures to enable citizens to start up and manage small businesses and develop local venture capital.
William Lawrence urged trade unions to focus on training and retraining the workforce to assist individuals in understanding the need to resolve disputes through negotiations and to develop new skills needed for the global economy. Meanwhile, the international community can support local and regional development through technical assistance, and expand the ability of micro lending."
He concluded: "the need to move the economy forward cannot be overstated. Social unrest associated with political identity issues will continue, and could be exacerbated to an actual legitimate crisis of the government.”