Tunisia: Ruling Party Chief Rejects ‘Neutral’ Govt

Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party leader has rejected opposition calls for a non-party government.

Germany’s foreign minister, meanwhile, has urged Tunisian leaders to avoid mistakes now playing out in Egypt.

Ennahda party chairman Rachid Ghannouchi told reporters Wednesday that he could not support the government resigning to make way for a cabinet of neutral experts. Ghannouchi said his party would accept a national unity government if all parties were represented, but that a cabinet of technocrats could not “manage the delicate situation in the country.”

“The call for the establishment of a government of competencies does not correspond to the current situation,” he said. “It would disrupt the transitional process.”

Tunisia has seen daily protests since the assassination of opposition deputy Mohamed Brahmi on July 25. The opposition has proposed a committee of experts work on the country’s new constitution.

The Islamist-dominated assembly, elected in 2011 after the overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has been tasked with writing a new constitution but has so far only produced a draft that has yet to be revised and voted on.

Tunisia ‘must not’ become Egypt

Ghannouchi said that the current instability in Egypt should serve as a warning to those who “dream of another el-Sissi in Tunisia,” referring to Egypt’s military leader who was behind ex-President Mohammed Morsi’s removal from office. He called Tuesday’s bloodshed in Egypt, where more than 500 people were killed in street clashes, “a failure for democracy.”

Many in Tunisia fear that religious radicals are gaining too much influence over the country’s political discourse. The governing Ennahda party, however, has to find a way to appeal to both secularists and Islamists. (10.08.2013)

Germany’s foreign minster, Guide Westerwelle, also urged Tunisia to avoid making the same mistakes as Egypt.

“Tunisia is not Egypt,” he said in Tunis, where he was wrapping up a two-day visit to the country. “Tunisia is on the path towards change and what’s taking place in Egypt must not happen in Tunisia.”

It was Westerwelle’s fifth visit to Tunisia since taking office nearly four years ago. During the trip he also met with opposition leaders, where he stressed that Germany does not support any particular political group in the country

“We stand on the side of the Tunisian people and democracy,” said Westerwelle after a meeting with Tunisia’s Prime Minister Ali Larayedh.

“The way to a solution and to a good future for Tunisia means dialogue and the ability to compromise,” he said, adding that all parties should “act with the necessary far-sightedness and do justice to their responsibility for the country.”

dr/kms (dpa, Reuters)