Tunisia's Ennahda faces growing opposition in parliament; MPs seek no-confidence vote against Ghannouchi

Bassem Aly , Sunday 12 Jul 2020

These Tunisian political forces believe that a conflict of interest exists between Al-Ghannouchi’s roles as Ennahda’s leader and the speaker of the parliament

File Photo: The leader of Tunisia's main Islamist Ennahda party, Rached Ghannouchi, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tunis February 12, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Amid calls for a strike by some MPs and political moves by others to withdraw confidence from Tunisian parliament speaker Rached Al-Ghannouchi, the country’s Islamist Ennahda Party, which is headed by Al-Ghannouchi, is currently going through tough times.

According to Al-Arabiya, a parliamentary source revealed that a number of political forces in parliament are “fed up with Al-Ghannouchi’s suspicious moves and practices,” including his “attempt to implement the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda” in the North African country.

They also accused Al-Ghannouchi of seeking to expand his authority by disregarding that of the president.

These Tunisian political forces believe that a conflict of interest exists between Al-Ghannouchi’s roles as Ennahda’s leader and the speaker of the parliament.

As a result, they agreed to collect signatures for a vote of no confidence against Al-Ghannouchi, the details of which they will officially reveal on Monday.

This step, the source said, has been undertaken by political forces including Al-Kotla Al-Democrateya (40 seats); Tahya Tounes (14 seats); Al-Islah Al-Watani (15 seats) and Al-Kotla Al-Wataneya (nine seats).

They are also backed by the Free Destourian Party, which has 17 seats in parliament. Awatef Koresh, a Destourian MP, told Sky News Arabia on Sunday that Al-Ghannouchi represents a “threat to Tunisia’s security.”

Koresh called on the rest of the political forces in the Tunisian parliament to join an open strike organised by her party against Ennahda.

However, no other party has more seats than Ennahda (52 seats) in the Tunisian parliament. Overall, the parliament has 217 MPs.

This puts into question the chance for success of a no-confidence vote against Al-Ghannouchi, especially since the anti-Ennahda forces have to—based on parliamentary regulations—secure an absolute majority (73 votes) for their bill to remove Al-Ghannouchi from the top legislative post within only three weeks.

These developments are part of the country’s ongoing political crisis. 

Prime Minister Elyes Al-Fakhfakh is facing corruption charges, and there is an investigation, led by a judge, taking place over this issue.

An independent parliamentarian published documents in June that show that Al-Fakhfakh owns shares in companies that were awarded state deals worth $15 million.

Some MPs want Al-Fakhfakh to resign, while others have unsuccessfully attempted to have a vote of no confidence against him.

The premier, while addressing parliament, argued that he will resign if he is proven guilty, but he claims that he no longer owns shares in these companies.

Al-Fakhfakh, a former finance minister, joined the Ettakatol party after Tunisia’s 2011 revolution. Ettakatol was by then an ally of Ennahda.

Even to form his current coalition government, Al-Fakhfakh had to reach an agreement with Ennahda, following months of a political deadlock, as it represents the largest political force in parliament. Ennahda took seven out of 32 portfolios to back the government.

Earlier this month, Ennahda announced that it will review its position on Tunisia’s coalition government in light of the prime minister’s corruption case. 

“The suspicion of a conflict of interest by the prime minister... has harmed the image of the governing coalition, and requires a reevaluation of the [party’s] position about the government,” the Islamist party said in a statement.

Sources told Reuters that withdrawing Ennahda’s ministers from the government is among the possible scenarios, but nothing has officially been decided yet.

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