Ennahda Resists Reshuffling Government

Facing rising discontent, the ruling Troika in Tunisia is trying to stem the tide of change and prevent both Salafists and secular parties from gaining more power, writes Noureddine Hlaoui.  

al-monitor Artists hold candles during a demonstration to show solidarity outside the headquarters of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) in the capital Tunis, Dec. 11, 2012. Tunisia's largest union UGTT has called for a general protest on Dec. 13 against the Islamist-led government in an escalation of protests that resulted in violent clashes in the capital. Photo by REUTERS/Anis Mili.

İşlenmiş konular

tunisian elections, troika government, troika, ennahda party, ennahda

Ara 21, 2012

During the past five months, the Tunisian government has found itself stripped of two of its members: the minister of administrative reform and the minister of finance.

Indeed, Mohamed Abbou, from the Congress for the Republic (CPR), and Houcine Dimassi, from Ettakattol, submitted their resignations on June 30, 2012, and July 27, 2012, respectively. But they did not submit them to the prime minister as per the usual rules and regulations. The first resigned in a press conference, and the second resigned in a statement to the media.

The minister of finance was replaced, just 24 hours ago, by another member of the cabinet, Elyes Fakhfakh.

They keep talking about the real reshuffle, but that has yet to take place. We persistently brought this up on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Oct. 23, 2011, elections, when many raised their voices about the end of the legitimacy of both the ANC and the government derived from it.

President Moncef Marzouki and the leader of Nidaa Tounes Beji Caid Essebsi were among those who called for the formation of a restricted new government composed of technocrats and in which sovereign ministries are granted to independent figures that do not belong to any party.

More than a fortnight later, many ministers and party members of the Troika are still talking about this much-vaunted reshuffle. But according to the latest data, the mountain will labor and bring forth a mouse. In fact, instead of a restricted government, it will instead be a restricted reshuffle and the "untouchable" sovereign departments will not be considered.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Rafik Abdessalem was keen to emphasize this and focus on the "unfounded" reports that he was replaced by Samir Dilou or Hedi Ben Abbes. In other words, Abdessalem is still convinced that he is the best Tunisian to occupy this strategic position and serve Tunisian diplomacy.

Moreover, the government's determination to schedule the parliamentary elections for the end of June 2013 is part of this commitment to show that no profound changes can be made in the government team when there are only six months left to conduct the next election.

However, it comes as a surprise to have the prime minister fix the election date even before the new Higher Independent Body for Elections (ISIE) is set in place. This body is normally and logically the sole authority capable of deciding on the date, after studying the various steps involved in the feasibility of free, transparent and democratic elections.

We must not forget that it takes time to set up this body at the central and regional levels and to complete the electoral roll.

Coming back to this reshuffle, which has yet to take place, or which will be limited and only cover the second degree portfolios without having any significant effect on the future direction of power, observers are convinced that the Troika barons — those of Ennahda in particular — will by no means let go of their long-desired cake. It should be noted that in order for each one of them to have a piece, it took them nearly two months, from late October to late December 2011, to share the cake.

Also, it should be noted that in order to offer decision-making posts to as many contenders as possible, both the government and the circle of advisers around the president have been expanded to such an extent that Tunisia has probably now the most prolific governmental team in the world!

This has led some analysts to say that the Troika parties seek to serve their interests before those of the country. In fact, how can we describe ministers and officials who admit that they are still learning on the job? In other words, they demand indulgence until they are settled in. That is to say, they are only governing in order to be rewarded for their activist career.

However, if some have really fought for their country and against tyranny, others have fought for power. Many members of the current government were leading a very easy life abroad and did not experience the so-called "years of fire."

This is especially the case of Ennahda activists, who, like their Islamist counterparts in other Arab countries, only seek to have the majority in order to govern. For them, as is well highlighted by Moez El Zogby, a political scientist based in Cairo, "democracy is to have the majority. And the majority has the right to do whatever it wants. Thus, it is the dictatorship of the majority."

Another researcher, Jean-Pierre Filiu, a professor at Sciences Po Paris and the author of The Arab Revolution, says that "it was awkward to speak of an ‘Arab Spring’, as this term was inevitably calling for an ‘Islamist autumn.’” However, he says, "This Islamist autumn is temporary, not structural, and this is what gives the current transitions this unstable and violent character. Islamists know that their victory is temporary."

Recognizing that its authority is being eroded in Tunisia by the rise of Salafists, the secular resistance, and especially the country's serious social and economic problems that it is unable to solve, Ennahda rejects an in-depth reshuffle and is desperately fighting to preserve power.

Some politicians have not hesitated to accuse it of preparing all the ingredients that would allow it to significantly influence the results of the next election and preserve its key decision-making positions, the goal being to win the future elections at all costs and give the winners a free hand in imposing a new dictatorship, covered, this time, by a majority and a legitimacy.

Makaleyi okumaya devam etmek için Al-Monitor’a abone olun
  • Arşivlenmiş makaleler
  • Geçtiğimiz Haftaya Bakış e-postanıza gelsin
  • Özel etkinlikler
  • Sadece davet brifingi

More from  Noureddine Hlaoui

Recommended Articles

Recent Podcasts

Featured Video