Tunisia: the overthrow of Bourguiba

Speech to the Tunisian parliament by Zine el Abidine Ben Ali on 7 November 1987 after President Bourguiba was declared unfit to govern.

November 7, 1987

Full text:

In the name of God, the Clement, the Merciful

We, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Prime Minister of the Republic of Tunisia, proclaim the following:

Fellow citizens,

The great sacrifices made by the Leader Habib Bourguiba, first President of the republic, together with other men of valor, for the liberation and development of Tunisia, are countless. And that is why we granted him our affection and regard and worked under his leadership for many years confidently, faithfully and in a spirit of self-denial, at all levels, in the ranks of our popular and national army and in the government.

But the onset of his senility and the deterioration of this health and the medical report made on this called us to carry out our national duty and declare him totally incapable of undertaking the tasks of President of the Republic.

Thereby, acting under article 57 of the Constitution, with the help of God, we take up the Presidency of the Republic and the high command of our armed forces.

In the exercise of our responsibilities, we are counting on all the children of our dear country to work together in an atmosphere of confidence, security and serenity, from which all hatred and rancor will be banished.

The independence of our country, our territorial integrity, the invulnerability of our fatherland and our people's progress are a matter of concern for all citizens. Love of one's country, devotion to its safety, commitment ot its growth are the sacred duties of all Tunisians.

Fellow citizens,

Our people has reached a degree of responsibility and maturity where every individual and group is in a position to constructively contribute to the running of its affairs, in conformity with the republican idea which gives institutions their full scope and guarantees the conditions for a responsible democracy, fully respecting the sovereignty of the people as written into the Constitution. This Constitution needs urgent revision. The times in which we live can no longer admit of life presidency or automatic succession, from which the people is excluded. Our people deserves an advanced and institutionalized political life, truly based on the plurality of parties and mass organizations.

We shall be soon putting forward a bill that will concern political parties and another concerning the press, which ensure a wider participation in the building up of Tunisia and the strengthening of her independence in a context of order and discipline.

We shall see that the law is correctly enforced in a way that will proscribe any kind of iniquity or injustice. We shall act to restore the prestige of the State and to put an end to chaos and laxity. There will be no more favoritism or indifference where the squandering of the country's wealth is concerned.

We shall continue to keep up our good relations and positive cooperation with all other countries, particularly friendly and sister countries. We shall respect our international engagements.

We shall give Islamic, Arab, African and Mediterranean solidarity its due importance. We shall strive ourselves to achieve the unity, based on our common interests, of the Great Maghreb.

Fellow citizens,

By the Grace of God, we are entering on a new era of efforts and determination. Love of our country and the call of duty require this of us.

Long live Tunisia!

Long live the Republic!

Note: This declaration wasoriginally publishedby the Tunisia Online website but has since been deleted.