Oral history interview with Hedi Larbi, 2015
Hedi Larbi is an associate at the Belfer Center's Middle East Initiative and former Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar (2015-2016). He served as Advisor to the MENA Vice President at the World Bank, and from January 2014 to February 2015 served as both the Minister of Economic Infrastructure and Sustainable Development and the Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Tunisia. Larbi holds an MSc in Civil Engineering from the École des Mines de Paris and an Executive MBA from Harvard Business School.
Scope and Contents
Hedi Larbi narrates his experience of the Tunisian Revolution from abroad, emphasizing the crucial role of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT). He describes the first transition government, led by Mohamed Ghannouchi, and efforts at designing a roadmap. He describes the debates about whether a new constitution should be written. The center parties championed the roadmap, seeing some commonalities with the period of Habib Bourguiba's leadership. Larbi discusses the implications of increased freedom of expression following the revolution. He speaks to the shift of focus away from economic hardship towards secularism, and Ennahda's rhetorical strategies. He describes his reform of the administration on becoming minister of infrastructure and sustainable development. He was not flexible to all of the unions' demands, even if they decided to strike. Larbi expresses that Mehdi Jomaa's team building process was rewarding. Larbi concludes by speaking to issues of government succession and political legitimacy.
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2015.