'Natural' for Islamists to lead Tunisia, says party chief

AFP , Wednesday 26 Oct 2011

Ennahda leader says his party has the right to lead the new government after provisional tallies show them winning the majority in the first election since the ouster of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali

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Supporters of the Islamist Ennahda movement celebrate outside Ennahda's headquarters in Tunis October 25, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

The leader of Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda party said on Wednesday that its commanding lead in historic elections made it the "natural" choice to lead the country's next government.

"It is natural that the party which obtained the majority heads the government," Rached Ghannouchi said in a radio interview as provisional tallies showed Ennahda leading the count following Sunday's poll.

"The government will be put together as soon as possible, within no more than a month," Ghannouchi said, with final results yet to be published.

An early tally on Tuesday showed Ennahda with 28 of the 55 seats in nine domestic polling districts counted so far, including the key cities of Sousse and Sfax, for a new 217-member assembly that will rewrite the constitution and appoint a caretaker government.

Results released on Monday showed Ennahda taking half of the 18 seats reserved for expatriate assembly representatives in an early vote held abroad last week.
This meant Ennahda had 37 of the 73 seats accounted for so far.

Asked about the identity of the interim president, Ghannouchi said: "It will be a person who had militated against the dictatorship. Nothing has been decided yet. Discussions are continuing."

Massive numbers of voters turned out on Sunday for Tunisia's first elections since the ouster of dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in a popular uprising in January.

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