Oral history interview with Habib Kchaou, 2015
Habib Kchaou was appointed social affairs adviser to the prime minister of Tunisia's technocratic government in January of 2014. He also advised Ali Laarayedh on social affairs. Before that, he managed a private company and taught at the Institute for Higher Commercial Studies at Carthage (IHEC).
Scope and Contents
Habib Kchaou begins by describing the corruption and authoritarianism that characterized Tunisia in the 2000s and 2010s, and his own impressions of the revolution. Kchaou participated in organizing efforts through his membership with the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT). He describes how political and civil society forces collaborated to create the Haute Commission pour la Protection de la Revolution [High Commission for the Protection of the Revolution] and plan the transition. In 2011, Kchaou co-founded a think tank that sought to improve Tunisia's development model, an issue to which he thinks Zine El Abidine Ben Ali ought to have attended to avoid being deposed. He believes the Troika government, despite its problems, was inclusive. Kchaou describes Hamadi Jebali and Mohamed Ennaceur's productive collaboration at the beginning of 2012, which resulted in the national dialogue. Kchaou was advising former Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh on social affairs, but after the assassinations in 2013 he shifted his focus to engineering consensus. He narrates how the technocratic government was created to set up elections. He discusses Mehdi Jomaa's management style, and how Jomaa maintained neutrality. Kchaou speaks to Jomaa's successful handling of foreign policy, especially his defense of the image of the "new Tunisia" abroad. He explains how finance reform was achieved under Jomaa. He says that terrorism threatened the success of the elections. Kchaou concludes by recalling his own political involvement since he was a student, and expressing his optimism about the dialogue process facilitated by the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet.
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2015.