The elections held on July 17 within the Shura Council of the Ennahda party led to a new composition of the party’s Executive Bureau. This influential bureau of Rached Ghannouchi's party is now composed of young and senior members. The reorganization sent several messages and took into account the reforms announced at Ennahda’s 10th Congress held in May.
Ghannouchi, president of Ennahda, announced July 17 the new composition of the party’s elected Executive Board. Following the second meeting of Ennahda Shura Council, which lasted six hours, Zied Laadhari was elected secretary-general of the party. His election is “full of messages” and “consecrates complementarity between the three generations of the party," said Laadhari on Shems Fm on July 17. The new secretary-general believes the reorganization of the leadership reflects the orientations adopted at the recent party congress.
In the new composition of the party’s Executive Board, consisting of 25 members, Abdelfatteh Mourou was appointed first vice president, Ali Laarayedh second vice president, and Nourredine Bhiri, third vice president. Six women are also among the members, namely, Wassila Zoghlami, Sayida Ounissi, Mehrezia Laabidi, Aroua Ben Abbes, Yamina Zoghlami and Farida Laabidi. Along with Laadhari, Sayida Ounissi, who was appointed as the international spokesperson, is part of young figures included in this list.
Towards a civilian party
Ghannouchi said the new composition, which includes "veiled and unveiled" women as well as young members, consolidates the orientations announced at the congress.
He indicated that the election of Laadhari as secretary-general serves as a positive message to young people and reflects the will of the party to strengthen the presence of young figures on different levels.
By appointing moderates such as Laadhari and Ounissi, Ghannouchi seems to be attempting to shift the party from “a religious” party toward a more “civil” party, which he himself announced at the congress.
In fact, these modern and moderate young people with strong academic credentials breathe new life into the party and undoubtedly shine its image, which is too often seen as “retrograde.”
The Executive Bureau of Ennahda has been renewed by 50% and “feminized” by almost 25%. It now has members belonging to the “three generations of the party” and includes some of Ennahda’s executives who held ministerial posts, others who have served abroad, those who remained in Tunisia, those who had spent years in prisons and others long known for their militancy. “A true complementary combination,” Laadhari said.
Laadhari and Ounissi: The young headliners
Laadhari is currently the minister of employment and vocational training. He is 41 and was a member of Ennahda in the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP).
He is a lawyer and an international legal expert and graduated from the Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Sciences of Tunis. He also holds a postgraduate degree from Sorbonne University in international and comparative law and Arab countries law, along with a second degree in banking and finance.
Laadhari also holds a CAPA certificate of aptitude for the profession of lawyer from the Bar Association training school for the Paris Court of Appeal.
This is not to mention that he was an auditor at the International Law Academy for the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Laadhari was admitted as a lawyer in the National Bar Association of Tunisia in 2001 and began practicing in international law firms in Paris before passing the entrance examination for the legal profession in France and being admitted as a lawyer before the Court of Appeal in Paris. He also specialized in economic and financial affairs, particularly the law of international economic relations and international contracts and investment law.
For her part, Ounissi, elected as deputy spokesperson for Ennahda, is a parliamentarian for the party at the ARP.
The thesis of the young 29-year-old doctoral student at the Sorbonne is on “The implementation of social policies and the coercive role of the state.” She was the youngest candidate on Ennahda’s electoral list for the governorate of France Nord during the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Presented by her party as a true activist, Ounissi has been engaged in different fields. She has been working at the heart of the Initiative of Change, an international nongovernmental organization, promoting peace and good governance and in the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations, the largest Muslim youth platform in Europe.
According to Ennahda’s website, “[Ounissi] maintains privileged relations with the EU institutions and actively works for the recognition of young Muslims’ contribution to European as well as Arab societies, under the Euro-Med partnership.”
The old and the fresh blood
Ghannouchi has brought a breath of fresh air to the party’s Executive Bureau by appointing young associates with undeniable credentials and qualities. However, Ghannouchi will work alongside senior leaders from the party, such as Ennahda’s Vice President Mourou as a personal representative, although he had announced after the 10th Congress that he wanted to retire from political life to “exclusively devote himself to preaching.”
The Bureau also includes Ali Laarayedh, who will be in charge of strategic studies, and Bhiri, who is in charge of managing coordination with the government apparatus.
However, other senior leaders will be absent, such as Abellatif Mekki, Abdellatif Jelassi and Samir Dilou, while some even refused certain posts that were offered to them, mainly because they do not see eye to eye with Ghannouchi, although he gained 75% of the vote.
Ghannouchi announced that there would be “surprises,” and indeed there were. Ennahda’s leader has to succeed in fulfilling the difficult task of meeting the need to “refresh” the party by providing young competent people who would also please the critics, all the while being able to satisfy the skeptical voices of Ennahda’s senior leaders. One can only wait and see what comes next.