Tunisia’s President on Collision Course With Islamist Government

Article Summary
Ever since former Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi was extradited without Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki's knowledge, he has become increasingly alienated from the Ennahda government, writes Noureddine Hlaoui. He was publicly embarrassed by the extradition and has since launched a series of verbal attacks, risking the unity of Tunisia’s post-Arab Spring administration.

Ever since Libyan ex-Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi was extradited by Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali without the knowledge of President of the Republic Moncef Marzouki, the latter has been feeling duped and humiliated. Thus, he is pursuing all means of revenge, never missing a chance to attack Ennahda and the Troika Government.

Everyone agrees that these increasingly bitter criticisms culminated in the speech delivered on his behalf by the young Walid Haddoug in the opening session of the second CPR Congress held in Tunis from August 24-26.

This time, Marzouki pulled few punches and attacked the government, which is overwhelmingly dominated by the Islamist party head on. He bluntly said that the government's practices and attempts to get its hands on all powers remind us of the former regime of [deposed President Zein Abedine] Ben Ali, who multiplied the appointments of his skilled and non-skilled relatives alike to key positions in the various decision centers of the country.

Moreover, Marzouki accused the government of repeatedly resorting to violence in dealing with those protesting against the regime, without forgetting that it wants to impose the parliamentary political system, which would centralize all powers in the hands of the prime minister.

Observers believe that Marzouki, obsessed with the fixed idea of staying and becoming a "real" president of the Republic, elected by universal suffrage with real powers in an amended presidential system, has absolutely nothing to lose or gain from Ennahda, which wants to monopolize power.

This explains his spectacular attitude in hopes of rebuilding his political and popular [cleanliness] for the upcoming elections.

But it must be said that much has happened since the Mahmoudi case. There were statements and other proclamations made by three advisers to the President of the Republic on their Facebook pages, which led them to being treated by the tenant of the Carthage Palace as political teenagers. However, no action was taken against them. That was before Mahmoudi’s extradition.

Later on, there were two episodes in the case of the Central Bank of Tunisia, with the dismissal of the former governor Mustapha Kamel Nabli and the highly controversial appointment of the new governor Chedly Ayari.

Meanwhile, two of the three above-mentioned advisers preferred to quit during the month of June 2012. Nonetheless, they continued to express themselves through writings, analyses and statements published on social networking sites and various media outlets.

These made loud declarations involving the government, the Constituent Assembly and the military, costing Ayoub Massoudi an appeal — which is still ongoing and whose outcome is still uncertain — before the Military Court of Tunis.

We are one step from saying that Marzouki is playing the card of his former advisers to wage war against Ennahda, especially in light of the fact that through their criticism of the government, both Abid and Massoudi demonstrated an unwavering loyalty to their president by abstaining from saying anything negative about him.

This is a revealing attitude at a time when Marzouki seems to have stopped trusting Mohamed Abbou, who is more domineering than ever and who is likely to play his own game. Why not become the true owner of a CPR that is on the verge of collapse given the multiple divisions resulting from the departures of Om Zied, Raouf Ayadi, Slim Boukhedhir and, more recently, Tahar Hmila?

Thus, while trying to take things in hand in the CPR, Marzouki seems to have cut ties with Ennahda. And there is every reason to believe this hypothesis. For evidence, and despite the soothing words of Rached Ghannouchi, there is the instant reaction of government officials and representatives of the Islamist party — the "heavyweights" of Ennahda in this case — Samir Dilou, Ali Laârayedh, Mohamed Ben Salem and Ameur Laârayedh, who left the congress room as a sign of discontent and protest.

Can we say that the break up between Marzouki and his allies from the powerful Islamist party is irreversible? If yes, then does this mean that there is a rupture between Ennahda and the CPR as well?

In any event and whatever the outcome of the CPR congress, nothing will ever be the same again in the ruling Troika. Each party seems to be playing for its own benefit, which is apparently destabilizing the Islamist party already "shaken" by the rise of Nidaa Tounes and the very harsh criticism on the part of the media and a large segment of the civil society interested in politics.

For all of these reasons, Ennahda is losing some of its confidence and magnificence, both acquired shortly before and shortly after the elections of October 23, 2011.

Found in: tunisia, troika government, troika, moncef marzouki, hamadi jebali, ennahda, cpr congress, arab spring, arab

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using them you accept our use of cookies. Learn more... X