The countdown is on and there’s no turning back. Ready or not, on October 23rd, the Tunisian Constituent Assembly election will take place. The pulse on the ground indicates that the Tunisian people, political parties, and government want this election to take place. They all have a vested interested in its success and are looking forward to this historic transition.” Security analysts have stated that the concern isn’t really the day of the election itself (Sunday, October 23rd), but rather the days and weeks following it.
How will the people react? Will they be happy with the results? How about the political parties? The number of licensed political parties is documented to be well over one hundred and there are more than 11,000 registered candidates. With only 3.64 million voters registered out of 7 million, will the results satisfied the hopes and expectations of the Tunisian people? Will the international observers be pleased with the technicalities? These are but a few of the many questions that orbit in the space of the unknown.
Some organizations have already informed their employees that they will be closed during the week of the elections. It is also no surprise that the rumor mills are picking up and social networks are filled with one thousand and one ‘what if theories’, but we should not confuse preparedness with panic. What’s happening in Tunisia is just a microcosm of what’s taking place all around the world. Everywhere from Libya to London, Nigeria to New York; the security situation is challenging.
There is a big difference between preparedness and panic. Preparedness is about using methods such as research, planning , resourcing, and above all common sense in order to be ready when challenging situations arise. Panic planning is simply expecting the worst and making rush judgments based on fears and rumors. Whereas preparedness is ongoing and proactive, panic planning is always in reactionary mode.
As of October 1, political parties have the green light to campaign and broadcast their message to the wider Tunisian public. Expect to see more and more campaign rallies, political assemblies, and general large gatherings. These gathering are usually peaceful in nature but may appear to be somewhat chaotic to an outsider. Loud speakers, large crowds, and an element of tension may give the impression that something else is going on, but make no mistake about it, the political season is in full swing.
Areas of Concern
- A total of 7 million Tunisians are eligible to vote on October 23rd, but only 3.64 million voters have registered.
- Polls say that half of the country’s 7 million strong electorate remain undecided.
- Some opposition parties say they fear the interim government may renege on its promise to lead Tunisia toward democracy and violent protests have erupted over delays in holding the poll.
Points of Optimism
- Tunisia’s Foreign Minister, Mouldi Kefi, said on Friday that his government was ready for the upcoming elections scheduled on October 23.
- “Ten thousand extra policemen will join the police in Tunisia to contribute to the success of the elections,” interior ministry spokesman, Hichem Meddeb, told Reuters.
- “Every government is concerned when elections are coming. Even for long standing democracies let alone a new born democracy like ours. Yes, there is some concern from the security forces, from the people themselves, but we are counting on the wisdom of the Tunisian people, of the Tunisian electorate, of the Tunisian citizens, men and women, to give not only the Tunisian people but the whole international community who have their eyes on our experience. As I said it will probably going to be a bell weather model for the others,”-Tunisia’s Foreign Minister, Mouldi Kefi
When putting together our contingency plans we have to remember that we are making a plan for a “future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty.” That is why it is important that our plans remain fresh, flexible, and above all practical.
The top 3 contingency planning areas we should focus on are: Curfews, Civil Unrest, and Martial Law. Now is a good time to review your personal plans, strategies and approaches for coping with these events. For each one of these go through a couple “What if?” scenarios and review the plan with friends and family. It doesn’t have to be a formal process, a simple conversation is sufficient. The process will not only better prepare you but it will also give you some piece of mind knowing that at the very least you have a plan.
Tunisia Security Update
We will continue to monitor the situation on the ground and keep you updated with relevant, practical, and big picture analysis.