The Middle East Institute and International Republican Institute are pleased to welcome Yassine Brahim (President, Afek Tunis Party), Meriem Bourguiba (Executive Committee, Afek Tunis Party), and Scott Mastic (Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa, International Republican Institute) for a discussion of Tunisia's democratic transition and the challenges ahead. With the landmark passage of a new constitution and electoral law, and general elections slated to be held before the end of 2014, how are parties like Afek Tunis preparing for elections? What are the most pressing steps and reforms necessary to ensure continued progress along a democratic trajectory? Brahim and Bourguiba will offer their first-hand perspectives on Tunisia's political situation and outline their visions for the country's political future, while Mastic will discuss the broader optics of political organizing in light of upcoming elections. Kate Seelye (Senior Vice President, The Middle East Institute) will moderate the event.
Yassine Brahim is the president and co-founder of Afek Tounes party, a pro-business social liberal party founded in March 2011 that recently reemerged on the political scene following its departure from a coalition in August 2013. Previously, he served as Minister of Transportation and Equipment under the second interim transitional government. In this capacity, he represented Tunisia in the Forum of Davos in Switzerland. He resigned from this post in June, 2011, due to the postponement of Tunisia's 2011 elections, and has since served as executive director of the Afek Tunis party. Prior to the start of his political career, Brahim worked for two years at Cap Gemini as an engineer and software project manager, followed by six years as an information technology manager at Société Générale. He also served as the director of the trading and risk management division at the Tunisian research and development center at Ubitrade, a financial software publisher. He was named general director shortly aftewards. Brahim graduated from the Central School of Paris (ECP) with a degree in engineering and IT in 1989.
Meriem Bourguiba is a founding member of Afek Tounes party. In October 2011, she ran as the party's candidate in the National Constituent Assembly election, where she narrowly missed winning a seat. She then worked for Tunisia's Al Joumhouri party for 15 months, creating the party's women’s wing, before returning to work for Afek Tunis. Before returning to Tunisia in 2010, Meriem worked in investment banking and was an active member of a number of community and charity organizations, including KIDS for special needs children and families. She is a trained Montessori School instructor and has a diploma in Homeopathic medicine. Meriem obtained her baccalaureate in math and physics and then studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SAOS) in London for a BA in Arabic with minors in History and Hebrew.
Scott Mastic joined IRI in 1998 and helped develop the Middle East and North Africa division to become the Institute’s largest regional division. He was named regional director in 2009. His approach to supporting democratic development since the start of the Arab Awakening in 2011 has prioritized regional partnerships to develop cutting-edge program approaches utilizing technology and promoting increased transparency and government accountability. Mastic has also played a key role in IRI’s groundbreaking public opinion polling in the Middle East and was a staff leader on historic IRI election observation missions for Tunisia’s October 2011 constituent assembly elections and Egypt’s 2011/2012 people’s assembly elections. He is an avid Middle East watcher and commentator and travels to the region regularly. In addition to testifying before Congress, Mastic has participated in transatlantic dialogues with the European People’s Party Center for European Studies and the European Ideas Network. He has spoken at the Brookings Center and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, has appeared on PBS’ Newshour, CNN, National Public Radio, and has written on the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Fikra Forum. Prior to joining IRI, Mastic worked in the State Legislature of Ohio. He holds a master’s degree from George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University. He also attended the American University in Cairo and Middlebury College’s intensive Arabic language program.
Kate Seelye (Moderator) is senior vice president of The Middle East Institute, where she oversees MEI's programs and communications. Prior to joining MEI, Seelye worked as a radio and television journalist covering the Arab world from 2000-2009 from her base in Beirut, Lebanon. She reported on the region for NPR, BBC's The World, PBS' Frontline/World and the renowned Channel Four British investigative news series, Unreported World. Prior to that she worked as a producer for the Newshour with Jim Lehrer on PBS.