Ambassador from Tunisia: Who is Mohamed Salah Tekaya?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States, Mohamed Salah Tekaya, presented his credentials to the State Department on October 1, 2010, and then to President Obama on December 7, 2010…only ten days before his countrymen exploded in a revolution that toppled the man who had appointed him ambassador, President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. 

Tekaya holds university degrees in Political Science and English Literature. He began his diplomatic career in 1982, serving early on at the Office of the Minister and at the Directorates of Asia, Africa and International Organizations and Conferences. He was at the United Nations as First Secretary (1987-1989) and held the same position at Tunisia’s embassy in the United States (1989-1993). He moved up to Counselor in his nation’s embassy in Norway (1995-1998) and then back at the U.N. (1998-2001).
From 2003-2004, Tekaya served as Tunisia’s Ambassador to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, and then as Ambassador to the Netherlands and Denmark from 2007-2010.
At first, Tekaya did his job as Ambassador to the U.S. by presenting the views of Ben Ali’s government, and there must have been some tense and difficult moments during that month of revolutionary uncertainty.  For example on January 7, 2011, the State Department “summoned” Tekaya to its headquarters, so that he could hear firsthand about its “concerns about the ability of the people of Tunisia to exercise their rights and freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.” 
Since the revolution has succeeded in overthrowing Ben Ali, Tekaya has been able to get back to business as usual, as when he hosted a delegation from the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce, and touted Tunisia’s continuing openness to business: “The mission illustrates the strong commitment of the Tunisian private sector to move quickly to explain to Tunisia’s partners the hopes that the Revolution has created for the people of Tunisia,” in addition to the “opportunities that a democratic Tunisia can offer American companies.”  He has also spoken about the Tunisian Revolution before college audiences, where he has called the revolution, “spontaneous, youthful and leaderless.”  He has also had less happy tasks, as when he had to inform the director of New York City’s Tunisian Cultural and Information Center that the new government had decided to defund the project and close the center. 
Tekaya is also accredited as ambassador to Mexico and Venezuela.
-Matt Bewig, David Wallechinsky


Tarek 6 years ago
@s. gilani. "either you play along with the ruling party, at least to some degree, and thereby get a chance at improving your life and making a career" if that's how you built your career then you should be ashamed of yourself. if not then you were in opposition? i don't think so, and in that case you would be a counter example of your statement. 95% of the people of tunisia were neither playing with the ruling party nor were in opposition, and many have built a career they can be proud of, you want to know how they did it? simply because they worked hard to achieve their goals. and i think they outnumber the opportunists that built careers (most of those have failed to do so because they don't know better).
S. Gilani 6 years ago
i think the presentation given above is fair. people who had the fortune of being born into a democratic society need to understand that when you are born and grow up in a dictatorial system, you have two choices. either you play along with the ruling party, at least to some degree, and thereby get a chance at improving your life and making a career, or you go into opposition and risk spending the most valuable years of your life in prison. therefore, just because mr. tekaya was appointed by the since deposed dictator ben ali, does not necessarily make him an evil person. i am sure that deep down he must be glad about the changes his country has undergone. good luck mr. tekaya!

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