Tunisia President calls for pardon of corruption people
TUNIS - Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi is calling on parliament to adopt a law pardoning people charged with or convicted of financial corruption if they confess and return any money obtained.
Corruption was endemic under long-time leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was driven from power in 2011 and whose close circle, especially his wife's family, had an iron grip on the economy.
Speaking in a conciliatory tone, Essebsi told the cabinet Tuesday that "the country needs everyone... and I believe there are many Tunisians, businessmen and others, who are ready to participate in the life of Tunisia but are afraid."
Numerous people have already been jailed over corruption or have fled the country.
The president's idea is to re-establish a climate of confidence within the administration and to improve the business environment and encourage investment.
A bill was presented to the cabinet on Tuesday and should be submitted to parliament soon, government spokesman Dhafer Neji said.
It would apply both to public servants and to the broader public.
In the case of government employees under investigation or convicted in cases of financial corruption, they would be exonerated if they did not personally benefit financially.
Meanwhile, anyone who has profited from financial corruption would be able to go before a commission that would be created to rule on these matters.
If they pay back their ill-gotten gains, along with five percent interest for each year since the money was obtained, they would also be exonerated.