Tunisia, Tunisia (Associated Press) – The leader of the Tunisian Islamic Party and the Speaker of the House of Assembly said on Tuesday that the party is working to form a “national front” to counter President Keith Said’s suspension of the legislature, dismissal of senior government officials and control of the government decision. Fragile democracy in multi-level national crises.
Ennahdha party chairman Rachid Ghannouchi told the Associated Press in a video call that the goal is to pressure the president to “demand the restoration of democracy.”
Ghannouchi claimed that the group that attacked his party’s offices in several cities during the nationwide demonstrations before the president’s action on Sunday night was organized online, the same group that later celebrated the president’s actions on the streets of the capital, Tunisia.
He claimed that these groups are “closer to anarchist groups” and “blame” themselves on the president, refusing to accept that they may be citizens expressing dissatisfaction with the country’s largest political party.
Since Said made a series of decisions to halt political life and most government actions, abruptly dismissed the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, and the Minister of Justice, and freeze the parliament, widespread concern in Tunisia and abroad has been expressed.
Ghannouchi and others were barred from entering parliament on Monday.
More than six civil organizations, including the powerful Tunisian Federation of Trade Unions, issued a joint statement on Tuesday, asking Said to provide a road map to solve the country’s problems. They also warned against “any illegal and unreasonable extension of the suspension of the activities of state institutions” and stated that they must abide by the one-month period stipulated by the Tunisian Constitution.
The President invoked a constitutional provision that allowed him to exercise executive power in the event of “imminent danger that threatens national institutions and national independence and hinders the normal functioning of public power.”
Said used to be a professor of constitutional science and emphasized that he did not violate the constitution.
Ganucci reiterated his statement, saying that these actions amounted to a coup, “We have called on the president to revoke these announcements and restore the country’s constitutional and democratic order.”
In the pressure strategy, the leader of Ennahdha stated that his party and other parliamentary groups are organizing.
“We are gradually putting pressure on the President, of course peacefully… to restore the democratic system and respect the wishes of the Tunisian people,” he said. In his pressure strategy, he cited plans for protests and sit-ins.
Ganucci said: “We seek work, not as an independent political party, but as a national front that establishes the widest possible front, in order to finally persuade the president to obey the will of the people and restore democratic order.”
He added that although the president digitally froze the work of parliament, this method was formally approved earlier due to the pandemic.
Said decided to centralize decision-making and most of the state’s functions at least temporarily. At a time when the crisis in Tunisia is escalating, it is fighting the coronavirus infection that is ravaging the country and the growing social and economic difficulties.
Protests in Tunisia in 2011 led to the overthrow of its long-time authoritarian leader and sparked the Arab Spring. Tunisia is often considered the only successful case of these uprisings. But democracy has not brought prosperity. Before the pandemic hit, Tunisia’s economy was already in trouble, with an unemployment rate as high as 18%. Earlier this year, young people demanding jobs and ending police brutality protested in large numbers.
These crises need to be resolved, “instead of seeking to create other problems or create ideological conflicts,” Ganucci said, adding that everyone must work to prevent Tunisia from “falling into violence”.
He admitted that Ennahdha was accused of focusing on internal issues rather than managing the coronavirus and “needs to self-review like other parties.”
Ghannouchi insists that Ennahdha has a high political status and is the perfect target for Tunisia’s economic and other issues.
“They succeeded in achieving some goals in inciting hatred against Ennahda,” he said.
The Islamic leader quickly added that “however, the popularity of parties is measured by elections” and Ennahdha is still the largest.
But all parties “must unite…save Tunisia, not this or that party,” Ganucci said.
Ghannouchi, the 80-year-old co-founder of Ennahdha, also said that he will not seek re-election as chairman at the party congress later this year.
Elaine Ganley reports from Paris.