Local Authorities Call for Greater Decentralisation in Tunisia

Decentralisation and strengthening local governance is an essential path to consolidating Tunisia’s future development, was the key message of a conference co-sponsored by the Cities Alliance in Tunis May 28-30, 2012.
 
Decentralisation and strengthening local governance is an essential path to consolidating Tunisia’s future development, was the key message of a conference co-sponsored by the Cities Alliance in Tunis May 28-30, 2012.
 
More than 200 representatives of local and national government and the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly gathered to debate the need and forms of a decentralisation agenda within the constitutional process in Tunisia, which is grappling with the aftermath of the Arab Spring and developing a new Constitution.
 
The event provided an opportunity for local government officials to meet with representatives of the national government and have an open debate on urban issues in the country. It was jointly organised by the National Federation of Tunisian Cities (FNVT), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the Diputación de Barcelona (Barcelona Provincial Government), the International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF) and the Arab Town Organisation (ATO).
 
After an opening session devoted to issues and models of decentralisation, participants divided into parallel workshops to address three main issues: the balance between decentralisation and devolution, the role of local authorities in development, and their relationships with civil society.
 
The Cities Alliance has supported a number of activities in the Middle East/North Africa region, including a City Development Strategy in Sfax, Tunisia (above). Photo: Rene Peter Hohmann/Cities Alliance
In remarks, the Mayor of Tunis, Saifallah Lasram, called for the new Constitution to include principles that strengthen role of local government and local democracy, a call that was echoed throughout the workshops.
 
There was also a general consensus among participants that the new Tunisian Constitution should enshrine the principles of local autonomy, ensure an appropriate split of responsibilities and resources between different levels of government and encourage citizen participation.
 
In a side event, members of a Joint Work Programme on strengthening inclusive cities in the Middle East-North Africa region met to discuss possible activities in Tunisia. Participants also had the chance to meet with 30 of their Tunisian counterparts in order to better understand the needs of the local and national partners in the country.
 
The Joint Work Programme, which is facilitated by the Cities Alliance Secretariat and the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), is an international partnership of development agencies that seeks to promote inclusive economic growth, accountability and subsidiarity in cities of the Middle East and North Africa.
 
 
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