Tunisia's Ennahda deny granting Egypt's Brotherhood political asylum

Ahram Online, Saturday 18 Jan 2014

After controversial remarks by Ennahda party's leader Rashid Ghannoushi, the party denied granting political asylum to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

Rachid Ghannouchi and Morsi
Tunisian moderate Islamist party chief Rachid Ghannouchi (L) and Ousted former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (R) (Photo: AP)

Ennahda party spokesman Ziad Laadhari said Saturday that the issue of granting Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood political asylum is "not on the table."

The remarks came in light of Islamist party leader Rashid Ghannoushi's comments on Friday, in which he hinted that Tunisia would welcome Egypt's Brotherhood figures.

 In a statement to Alarabiya.net, Laadhari stated that the issue had not been discussed within the party.

Laadhari also stated that granting political asylum is not the job of political parties, but the Tunisian government's.

Ghannoushi, in an interview with radio channel Shams FM, had previously said that "Tunisia is a democratic country, committed to the United Nations' system," and as such, has "the right to grant political asylum to oppressed politicians" via the UN's Refugee Agency.

The leader of Tunisia's ruling party, an ideological offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, also criticised the results of the latest Egyptian referendum on the amended 2012 draft constitution.

"This referendum is a joke and a tragedy. What is happening in Egypt does not portray the will of the people, since there is no constitution that can have 90 percent approval of those who voted," Ghannoushi stated.

The results of the Egyptian constitution referendum are due to be announced late on Saturday. Preliminary results, however, show an approval vote of more than 97 percent.

Tunisia and Egypt suffered a recent fallout in September when Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki called on Egyptian authorities to release deposed president Mohamed Morsi, who at the time was still being held incommunicado at the undisclosed location where he had been brought following his July ouster. 

In his address to the UN General Assembly, Marzouki argued that Morsi's release would help resolve the severe political tensions between the interim government, Morsi's Islamist supporters and the former president's opponents.

Egypt's presidency afterwards expressed its "regret" that President Marzouki was "unaware" of the reality of the Egyptian situation.

"We hope that Tunisia, which had the honour of inaugurating the Arab Spring, benefits from the Egyptian experience, proving that the people refuse to have a system imposed upon them," the statement read.

The presidency added that the 30 June protests, which resulted in the 3 July ouster of Morsi, were meant to "reclaim the January 25 2011 Revolution" and fulfill its goals.

The Egyptian presidency went one step further by briefly recalling its ambassador to Tunisia.

Ayman Musharafa was recalled "because of Tunisian officials' unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Egypt," Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty explained in a statement.

However, Musharafa quickly reassumed his post in November as Egyptian ambassador to Tunisia. 

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