Few would dispute the significant advances Tunisians have made towards democratization since escaping Ben Ali's dictatorship in 2011. But these accomplishments have remained elitist matters, viewed with apathy by the wider population.
TUNIS, Tunisia -- Exactly five years after the Arab Spring, Tunisia's revolutionary achievements have disappeared. Once considered the country that resisted the chaos that took over most of the MENA region after 2011, it seems to be sliding back into its pre-revolutionary situation. There is only one cause for this: poor leadership.
The majority of Muslims see no real contradiction between Islam and democracy. Today, the most profound struggles in the Middle East are between democratic visions, whether secularist or religious, and authoritarianism, whether secularist or religious.
As soon as the Tunisian elections results were announced with Nidaa Tounes overtaking Ennahdha party, celebrations of the "Islamists'" defeat at the hands of the "secularists" got underway across the media in France and many other western capitals.
The repatriation of $28.8 million of Ben Ali's stolen assets is a victory for the people of Tunisia. Now, let's try to keep it there.
The fear is that the growing climate of violence, intimidation and polarization could rip the fabric of Tunisian society apart, just as this new democratic space and culture of pluralism are forming. But I left the country feeling optimistic that, despite all its challenges, Tunisia will navigate these waters and find its way forward.
If we consider what has happened in countries such as Mali and Sudan, and what is now happening in the CAR, it appears that radical political change in the failed or failing states of SSA is the new normal.
The Constitution has not been drafted, the date of the next election has not been set, and we continue to plod through the various crises agitating our society and an economy that does not stop sinking.