Oral history interview with Mustapha Ben Jaafar, 2015
Mustapha Ben Jaafar was president of the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia from 2011 to 2014. He founded and has led the Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties (FDTL or Ettakatol) since 1994. In 2000, he co-founded the National Council for liberties (CNLT). He served as secretary general of the Movement of Socialist Democrats (MDS) in 1992, which he helped found in 1978. In 1976 he co-founded a weekly magazine that evolved into the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH).
Scope and Contents
Mustapha Ben Jaafar, secretary general of the political party Ettakatol and ex-president of the National Constituent Assembly, reminisces about his past involvement in human rights; union activism and politics; the political dynamics in Tunisia before, during and after the Revolution; and the contemporary challenges facing Tunisia. Recounting his personal experience of the Revolution and its aftermath, he narrates Ettakatol's involvement with and position towards the Mohamed Ghannouchi government. He details Ettakatol's experience governing as a part of the Troika coalition, as well as its relationships with the technocratic government and the Quartet of the National Dialogue. Ben Jaafar describes a hostile political climate, where Ettakatol and Ennahda were accused of regressive politics. He explains that an alliance between Islamist and secular parties, and a culture of collegiality across the political spectrum, had already existed before the Revolution. He deplores the instrumentalization of the assassinations of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi in 2013, which, according to him, were used to push the Troika out of power. During the fragile transition between the Ali Laayaredh and Mehdi Jomaa governments and in the context of the sit-ins at the Bardo and Kasbah, Ben Jaafar worked to finish the Constitution and ensure that it was inclusive of multiple views. He discusses government failures after the 2011 elections. Today, he feels that the country is at risk of undoing its progress following the Revolution. The interview's 51-page transcription from the original French is acompanied by a 46-page English translation.
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2015.