The crisis within the ruling party Nidaa Tounes over the holding of a constituent congress meeting persists. The power struggle over the leadership of the party between what have come to be called the Leftist camp and the Destourian camp embodied by Mohcen Merzouk, secretary general of the party, on one side, and Hafedh Essebsi, vice president of the party (and son of President Beji Caid Essebsi), on the other side has dramatically intensified over the last couple of weeks. Ten days ago, 32 parliamentarians who are opposed to Hafedh Essebsi put their threat into action and declared their collective resignation form the party’s 86 MPs block in the National Assembly. The move marked a new phase in the spiralling crisis within the party and had apparently forced Hafedh Essebsi, to go on Nessma TV for a one-hour talk show in which he derided Mohcen Merzouk and his supporters. The faultlines within Nidaa Tounes which underpin the current crisis are not straightforward though. While on the surface it appears ideological there are however leftists and Destourians in both camps. This explains the emergence of a third 20-MPs block within the party’s parliament block that has decided to stay away from this polarisation and work to reconcile the factions and unify the party again. There is also the role of businessmen within the party in both camps. When Hafedh Essebsi went on TV he did that on Nessma TV that is owned by Nabil Karoui, who is a member of the party and supports Hafedh Essebsi’s camp. That was the first time Hafedh Essebsi went on TV for a one-hour talk show in which he levelled charges against Merzouk, marking thereby a new low in the crisis. The following day, 8 out 14 of the contested Hafedh’s camp constituent committee held a meeting in which they decided the holding of the constituent congress meeting of the party on 19-25 December, and designated a transition ad hoc group to run the party until the congress meeting was held. Mohcen Merzouk’s camp rejected the decision as illegal and considered it no less than a coup against the party’s executive bureau. Exactly one year from the 2014 legislative elections that unseated Ennahdha and brought Nidaa Tounes to power, a sizeable section of Tunisians who supported Nidaa Touness are appalled by the power struggle within the party. Some figures have even criticised what they considered President Beji Essebsi’s tilt in favour of his son’s camp. Despite this unprecedented crisis Rashed Ghanouchi met with President Essebssi on the day the 32 MPs resigned, and assured him of Ennahdha’s support. Theoretically, Ennahdha now holds the majority in the parliament with 69 MPs but the spirit of the Paris meeting and the National Dialogue agreement would ensure, observers believe, the power-balance between secularists and Islamists.

Links for more information:

Posted by Editor