Department Press Briefing – Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

Department Press Briefing – December 19, 2022

Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

Washington, D.C.

QUESTION:  Yesterday you called Tunisia’s parliamentary elections an “initial step.”  How can an election with (inaudible) voter turnout in Tunisia’s recent history for a parliament that will be mostly toothless, how is that not considered a step back for Tunisia’s democracy?

MR PRICE:  Well, first and foremost, you heard this from Secretary Blinken last week when he met with President Saied, and he said this publicly.  We stand with the Tunisian people.  We remain committed to the longstanding U.S.-Tunisia partnership.  We did note in the statement yesterday that parliamentary elections that took place in Tunisia over the weekend have the potential to put the country back on the path, put it back towards a democratic trajectory.  But I think we have to be candid that elections alone do not a democracy make.  The – what you pointed to, of course, is an apparent sign of discontent among the Tunisian people.  We were also very clear about that: the low voter turnout reflects the need for the Government of Tunisia to engage in a more inclusive, and to engage in a more inclusive process going forward to further expand political participation.  And we’ll continue to support the Tunisian people’s aspirations for democratic and accountable government that protects free expression, including dissent, and to support civil society.

We also at the same time urge the Tunisian Government to take urgent steps to address the current economic crisis and achieve long-term stability and prosperity for all Tunisians.