Ennahda official: No coup in Tunisia

Governing Islamist party’s vice president says the opposition is trying to “repeat the Egyptian scenario”.

Tunisia protests
Tunisia has been witnessing protests by secular parties against the ruling Ennahda [Reuters]

The vice president of Tunisia’s governing Ennahda has told Al Jazeera that the North African nation’s interim government is not in danger of being toppled, after yet another high-ranking party member called the dissolution of Tunisia’s interim legislative body a “coup d’etat”.

Ennahda has often compared itself to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in the little over a month since Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s overthrow, but Ennahda Party National Constituent Assembly (NCA) member Nejib Mrad’s statement on Tuesday on Mutawassit TV that an overthrow is under way took Tunisian national media by storm.

But it seems not everyone in the Tunisian Islamist party is entirely on the same page.

“There’s no coup d’etat in Tunisia. There’s an opposition party that wants to dissolve the government,” Walid Bennani, Ennahda’s vice president, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

“The opposition also still wants to repeat the Egyptian scenario. That can’t happen. There is no option [for an alternative to rise to] power. There’s no resemblance between the two cases.”

Yusra Ghannouchi, party spokeswoman and daughter of Ennahda’s founder Rachid Ghannounchi, told Al Jazeera last week that no one in the country wanted to repeat what she and Bennani both referred to as “the Egyptian scenario”.

“What is unfolding in Egypt is not an attractive prospect for any sane person. The Egyptian scenario indeed proves that the disruption of a political process only leads to further division, instability, chaos and violence,” she said.

“The transition in Tunisia has been managed in the spirit of inclusiveness and consensus. We have a coalition government that brings together an Islamist party, two secular parties and a significant number of independent ministers.”

However, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, the NCA’s speaker from Ettakatol, the secular party in coalition with Ennahda, said on Tuesday that the NCA would stop work until the Ennahda-led government started a national dialogue with opposition parties.

Tunisian political analysts tell Al Jazeera that Ettakatol has taken a more hostile stance against its Islamist coalition partner because alleged concessions to Ennahda have cost Ettakatol constituents.

Tunisians have participated in a series of mass demonstrations after the July 25 murder of opposition leader Mohammed Brahmi – the second opposition leader to be shot dead this year.

Ennahda’s opponents have blamed the party for not adequately cracking down on armed radical groups.

Tens of thousands of Tunisians participated in a demonstration in downtown Tunis Tuesday, calling for the government’s removal.  

Mouna Ben Halima, an activist and hotel owner, told Al Jazeera that the protests prompted an outcry among Ennahda’s opponents over a host of other social and economic issues, including the arrests under the Ennahda-led administration of a 19-year-old activist of women’s rights advocacy group Femen, Amina Sboui, and dissident rapper Weld el 15.

Ben Halima called the arrests “a threat to liberties.” Ben Halim said in an email that “L’incompetence” – incompetence – is another reason for public displeasure with Ennahda.

“The economy is in a dire state. Investment has been stopped by political instability, the stock market is in free fall and inflation is galloping. The less favored classes can no longer handle it.”

Source: Al Jazeera