U.S. Vice President Kamala D. Harris reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to its friendship with Tunisia and highlighted the importance of defending democratic ideals during a Tuesday call with Tunisian President Kais Saied.
“They discussed the importance of the longstanding friendship between the United States and Tunisia. The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of democratic institutions, the rule of law, and fighting corruption,” said a statement from the White House regarding the call.
The northernmost country on the continent of Africa, Tunisia has a population of over 11 million people. With roughly 99% of the population identifying as Muslim, Tunisia’s constitution declares Islam as the country’s official state religion.
President Kai Saied was elected to his office in 2019, succeeding the late Beji Caid Essebsi.
“The Vice President underscored the United States’ sustained commitment to supporting Tunisia’s democracy,” the statement said.
The Economist gives Tunisia a score of 6.59 on the Global Democracy Index, labeling the nation as a “flawed democracy.” This score is substantially higher than majority of African nations and the highest amongst the Arab world.
While it is far from perfect and faces numerous challenges and obstacles, the nation of Tunisia has made great strides in democratization and has thus offered optimistic hope for progress in a region where most countries’ governments have failed to embrace democracy.
“In addition, the Vice President noted Tunisia’s economic reform commitments amidst challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The two leaders also discussed the importance of continued security cooperation between the two countries,” said the White House statement.
As the Biden-Harris Administration has promised to promote and defend democracy around the world, many are hopeful that Tunisia will continue to grow in its role as a democratic spotlight in a region of the world where authoritarianism and human rights abuses are pervasive.