Moncef Marzouki

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Moncef Marzouki
المنصف المرزوقي
Moncef Marzouki2.jpg
President of Tunisia
In office
13 December 2011 – 31 December 2014
Prime MinisterBeji Caid Essebsi
Hamadi Jebali
Ali Laarayedh
Mehdi Jomaa
Preceded byFouad Mebazaa
Succeeded byBeji Caid Essebsi
Member of the Constituent Assembly
for Nabeul's 2nd district
In office
22 November 2011 – 13 December 2011
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded bySamia Abbou
President of the Congress for the Republic
In office
24 July 2001 – 13 December 2011
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byAbderraouf Ayadi (Acting)
President of the Tunisian Human Rights League
In office
12 March 1989 – 5 February 1994
Preceded byMohamed Charfi
Succeeded byTaoufik Bouderbala
Personal details
Born (1945-07-07) 7 July 1945 (age 77)
Grombalia, French Tunisia
Political partyAl-Irada
Other political
Congress for the Republic
SpouseBeatrix Rhein
Alma materUniversity of Strasbourg
WebsiteOfficial website

Mohamed Moncef Marzouki (Arabic: محمد المنصف المرزوقي; Muhammad al-Munṣif al-Marzūqī, born 7 July 1945) is a Tunisian politician who served as the fifth president of Tunisia from 2011[1][2][3] to 2014. Through his career he has been a human rights activist, physician and politician. On 12 December 2011, he was elected President of Tunisia by the Constituent Assembly.

Early life[edit]

Marzouki with Habib Bourguiba in 1982.

Born in Grombalia, Tunisia, Marzouki was the son of a Qadi. His father, being a supporter of Salah Ben Youssef (Bourguiba's opponent), emigrated to Morocco in the late 1950s because of political pressures.[4] Marzouki finished his secondary education in Tangier, where he obtained the Baccalauréat in 1961.[4] He then went to study medicine at the University of Strasbourg in France. Returning to Tunisia in 1979, he founded the Center for Community Medicine in Sousse and the African Network for Prevention of Child Abuse, also joining Tunisian League for Human Rights.[5] In his youth, he had travelled to India to study Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent resistance.[6] Later, he also travelled to South Africa to study its transition from apartheid.[7]

Political career[edit]

When the government cracked down violently on the Islamist Ennahda Movement in 1991, Marzouki confronted Tunisian President Ben Ali calling on him to adhere to the law.[7] In 1993, Marzouki was a founding member of the National Committee for the Defense of Prisoners of Conscience, but he resigned after it was taken over by supporters of the government. He was arrested on several occasions on charges relating to the propagation of false news and working with banned Islamist groups. He subsequently founded the National Committee for Liberties. He became President[5] of the Arab Commission for Human Rights and as of 17 January 2011 continues as a member of its executive board.[8]

In 2001, he founded the Congress for the Republic.[9][10] This political party was banned in 2002, but Marzouki moved to France and continued running it.[5]

Following President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's departure from Tunisia and the Tunisian revolution, Marzouki announced his return to Tunisia and his intention to run for the presidency.[5]

President of Tunisia[edit]

Moncef Marzouki, President of the Republic, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, President of the Constituent Assembly & Ali Larayedh, Head of Government, Le Bardo, January 27, 2014.

On 12 December 2011, the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia, a body elected to govern the country and draft a new constitution, elected Marzouki as interim president, with 155 votes for, 3 against, and 42 blank votes.[11][12] Blank votes were the result of a boycott from the opposition parties, who considered the new mini-constitution of the country an undemocratic one. He was the first president who was not an heir to the legacy of the country's founding president, Habib Bourguiba.

On 14 December, one day after his accession to office, he appointed Hamadi Jebali of the moderate Islamist Ennahda Movement as Prime Minister.[13] Jebali presented his government on 20 December.[14]

On 3 May 2012, Nessma TV owner Nabil Karoui and two others were convicted of "blasphemy" and "disturbing public order". The charges stemmed from the network's decision to broadcast a dubbed version of the 2007 Franco-Iranian film Persepolis, which includes several visual depictions of God. Karoui was fined 2,400 dinars for the broadcast, while the station's programming director and the president of the women's organization which provided dubbing for the film were fined 1,200 dinars.[15] Responding to the verdict, Marzouki stated to members of the press in the presidential palace in Tunis, "I think this verdict is bad for the image of Tunisia. Now people in the rest of the world will only be talking about this when they talk about Tunisia."[16]

As President, Marzouki played a leading role in establishing Tunisia's Truth and Dignity Commission in 2014, as a key part of creating a national reconciliation.[17]

Marzouki with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry, Carthage Palace, 2014.
Marzouki with US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama in 2014.

In March 2014, President Marzouki lifted the state of emergency that had been in place since the outbreak of the 2011 revolution, and a top military chief said soldiers stationed in some of the country's most sensitive areas would return to their barracks. The decree from President Marzouki said the state of emergency ordered in January 2011 is lifted across the country immediately. The state of emergency was imposed by longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and maintained after he was overthrown. It was repeatedly renewed.[18]

In April 2014, he cut his pay by two-thirds, citing the state's need to be a model in dealing with the deteriorating financial situation.[19]

Marzouki was defeated by Beji Caid Essebsi in the November–December 2014 presidential election, and Essebsi was sworn in as President on 31 December 2014, succeeding Marzouki.[20]


On 25 June 2015, Marzouki participated in the Freedom Flotilla III to the Gaza Strip. On 29 June, during their approach to the territorial waters of Gaza, but while still in international waters, the flotilla was intercepted by the Israeli navy and taken to the port of Ashdod, where the participants were interviewed. Marzouki was greeted by a delegation of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, but he declined to talk with them. On 30 June, he was deported to Paris and returned to Tunis on 1 July, where he was greeted by hundreds of supporters.[21] In 2016, he was appointed by the African Union to oversee the Comorian presidential election.[22] On 14 October 2021, the Tunisia government under Kais Saied stripped Marzouki of his diplomatic passport.[23] In November 2021, Moncef Marzouki was the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by the Tunisian government for endangering state security.[24] On 23 December 2021, Marzouki was sentenced to four years in prison and was found guilty of “undermining the security of the state from abroad” and of having caused “diplomatic harm”. Marzouki rejected the ruling, describing it as illegal, saying it was “issued by an illegitimate president who overturned the constitution”.[25][26]

On 29 December 2021, Marzouki vowed to return to Tunisia and "overthrow the incumbent regime".[27] In January 2022, Marzouki was among 19 predominantly high-ranking politicians to be referred to court for trial by the Tunisian judiciary for "electoral violations" allegedly committed during the 2019 presidential elections.[28]

In 2022 Marzouki was sentenced to 4 years in prison.[29]

Personal life[edit]

From a first marriage, Moncef Marzouki has two daughters: Myriam and Nadia. In December 2011, during a private civil ceremony in Carthage Palace, he married Beatrix Rhein, a French physician.[30]


Tunisian National Honours[edit]

Marzouki during his speech just after receiving the Chatham House Award, London, 2012.
  • Tunisia :
    • Grand Collar of the Order of Independence (In his capacity as President of the Tunisian Republic)
    • Grand Collar of the Order of the Republic (In his capacity as President of the Tunisian Republic)
    • Grand Collar of the National Order of Merit of Tunisia (In his capacity as President of the Tunisian Republic)

Foreign Honors[edit]

Distinctions and awards[edit]

Chatham House prize in 2012, Moncef Marzouki & Rached Ghannouchi.

Main publications[edit]

  • Arabes, si vous parliez, ed. Lieu commun, Paris, 1987
  • Laisse mon pays se réveiller : vers une quatrième civilisation, ed. Éditions pour le Maghreb arabe, Tunis, 1988
  • Le mal arabe, ed. L'Harmattan, Paris, 2004
  • Dictateurs en sursis : une voie démocratique pour le monde arabe, ed. de l'Atelier, Paris, 2009
  • L'invention d'une démocratie. Les leçons de l'expérience tunisienne, ed. La Découverte, Paris, 2013
  • Tunisie, du triomphe au naufrage (with Pierre Piccinin da Prata & Thibaut Werpin), ed. L'Harmattan, Paris, 2013


  1. ^ "Veteran human rights activist chosen as Tunisia's new interim president", The Telegraph, 15 November 2011
  2. ^ Tunisian activist to serve as interim president, CBC News, 12 December 2011
  3. ^ Jacobs, Donna (5 April 2013), "Tunisia's bold gamble on democracy: 'One day or another, we will win'", Diplomat & International Canada
  4. ^ a b "Marzouki se fait allumer en Algérie". Maghreb Intelligence. 8 February 2012. Archived from the original on 20 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d "Moncef Marzouki declares presidential candidacy". Al Arabiya. 16 January 2011. Archived from the original on 19 January 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Marzouki: Tunisia's opposition stalwart turned president". 13 December 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  7. ^ a b Coll, Steve. "The Casbah Coalition. Tunisia's second revolution", The New Yorker, 4 April 2011. retrieved on 30 April 2011.
  8. ^ "What is the Arab Commission for Human Rights". 2011. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  9. ^ "Déclaration constitutive". Congress for the Republic. 24 July 2001. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  10. ^ "Première liste des membres fondateurs du CPR". Congress for the Republic. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  11. ^ "Tunisia's assembly elects human rights activist as interim president". Washington Post. 12 December 2011. Archived from the original on 14 December 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  12. ^ "Tunisian activist, Moncef Marzouki, named president". BBC News. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  13. ^ Mzioudet, Houda (14 December 2011), "Ennahda's Jebali Appointed as Tunisian Prime Minister",, archived from the original on 17 January 2012, retrieved 21 December 2011
  14. ^ Tunisian PM presents new government, AFP, 20 December 2011, archived from the original on 21 December 2011, retrieved 21 December 2011
  15. ^ "Owner of Nessma TV Fined 2,400 Dinars in Persepolis Trial : Tunisia Live". Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  16. ^ "Controversial Tunisian Court Ruling Reflects Dilemmas of the Arab Spring". Time. 3 May 2012.
  17. ^ "Tunisia launches Truth and Dignity Commission". 9 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Tunisia ends state of emergency after 3 years - the Washington Post". Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  19. ^ "Tunisian president cuts own pay by two-thirds". 14 April 2014.
  20. ^ "Tunisian secular leader Essebsi sworn in as new president", Reuters, 31 December 2014.
  21. ^ Tunisia's ex-president Marzouki arrives in France after detention in Israel, Ahram Online, 30 June 2015
  22. ^ "Marzouki en mission d'observation des élections aux Îles Comores". 10 February 2016.
  23. ^ "Tunisia withdraws diplomatic passport of ex-leader as Western pressure mounts". Reuters. 14 October 2021. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  24. ^ "Tunisie : Moncef Marzouki visé par un mandat d'arrêt international". Jeune Afrique. 5 November 2021. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  25. ^ "Ex-Tunisian President Marzouki sentenced to 4 years in absentia". Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  26. ^ "Tunisia's former president Marzouki sentenced to jail in absentia". France 24. 22 December 2021. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  27. ^ "Ex-Tunisian president vows to overthrow incumbent regime". Middle East Monitor. 30 December 2021. Retrieved 30 December 2021.
  28. ^ "Tunisian judiciary refers 19 people to trial for 'electoral crimes'". Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  29. ^ "Ex-Tunisian President Marzouki sentenced to 4 years in absentia".
  30. ^ "La nouvelle 'Première dame' de Tunisie : Pourquoi tant de mystère?". Nawaat. 3 April 2013.
  31. ^ a b c d "Les limites du concept sont-elles encore négociables ?". 2001.
  32. ^ "Le Directeur général remet la Médaille d'or de l'ISESCO au Président tunisien". 29 December 2012.
  33. ^ "Chatham House Prize 2012 - Rached Ghannouchi and Moncef Marzouki". 8 April 2015.
  34. ^ "Marzouki docteur honoris causa de l'université de Tsukuba". 4 July 2013.
  35. ^ "Le Prix annuel d'El Qods 2015, attribué à Moncef Marzouki". 29 November 2015.
  36. ^ "Moncef Marzouki reçoit le Prix de la Paix de la Fondation italienne Ducci". 16 March 2016.
  37. ^ "Toplist Arabic 2018". 17 January 2018.

External links[edit]

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by President of the Tunisian Human Rights League
Succeeded by
Taoufik Bouderbala
Party political offices
New political party President of the Congress for the Republic
Succeeded by
Constituent Assembly of Tunisia
New constituency Member of the Constituent Assembly
for Nabeul's 2nd district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by President of Tunisia
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Youngest President at the end of term
Since 31 December 2014
Succeeded by