TUNIS: The ruling Tunisian Islamist party Ennahda’s pledge to stand down in favour of a government of independents has prompted both relief and distrust among observers and members of the opposition.
Despite Saturday’s agreement aimed at ending a months-long political deadlock, some already fear that Ennahda may try to renege on the deal. Saturday’s roadmap signed by Ennahda chief Rached Ghannouchi was brokered to end a crisis sparked by the murder in July of opposition MP Mohamed Brahmi.
The document foresees the nomination of an independent prime minister by the end of next week, who would then have two weeks to form a cabinet. But already members of Ennahda have played down the scope of the document.
Abdelhamid Jlassi, a senior Ennahda official, said that “the date of the government’s resignation will not be determined until the start of the real national dialogue”.
Jlassi said this dialogue will bring all parties to the table at a date yet to be determined, and that sessions planned to start from today will be only “preparatory meetings”.
Despite the relief of securing Ennahda’s promise to stand down, and after a two-month boycott of the National Constituent Assembly, opponents of the moderate Islamist party are wary. Selim Ben Abdesselem, a lawmaker from opposition party Nidaa Tounes, accused Ennahda of “doublespeak”.
“We hear them say one thing and then deny it,” he said, adding that he sees plenty of potential stumbling blocks for the negotiations. The choice of a new prime minister and his cabinet, the powers the new government will enjoy, the makeup of the new constitution and the dates of elections could all cause difficulties, he said.
For months, the opposition has accused Ennahda of slotting party loyalists into strategic positions across the country to help them manipulate the next elections. Nevertheless, observers of Tunisian politics see Ennahda’s agreement to stand down as a step forward.
They say it shows a desire to end political stalemate and build stable institutions, nearly three years ofter the popular uprising that toppled former strongman Ben Ali.AFP