dimanche 30 octobre 2011

An Islamist Prime Minister and a progressive President?

Hamadi Jebali

The election is now complete – discussions in Tunisia are henceforth about the next government and the recent electoral fraud. Except for a few isolated incidents, the president of the ISIE, Kamel Jendoubi, declared that the vote was fair and that the infractions by some of the parties did not stain the credibility of the results.

At the moment, rumors surrounding the start of the Assembly’s work are at the center of attention. Since the first results were revealed, Ennadha has taken up most of the space in the negotiations – not surprising, considering their performance at the elections.

Ennadha disposes of very large means since they are the only party that can form a majority, albeit needing a coalition with another political group. For this reason, they have already proposed a candidate for Prime Minister and have also speculated as to who the next interim President might be.

The man Ennadha wishes to propose as Prime Minister is Hamadi Jebali – currently the party’s secretary general and supporter since the early eighties. He is an engineer from Sousse and was very active in presenting the party’s ideas to the media during the electoral campaign.

Aware of their status as a minority government and of Tunisian’s fears of a lone ruling party, Ennadha is looking for an alliance with a progressive leader. The goal would be to have that leader as interim president until the next legislative elections. Rumors suggest that there are three candidates the religious party is considering – CPR leader Moncef Marzouki, Ettakatol’s Mustapha Ben Jaafar and Béji Caid Essebsi, current Prime Minister. 

The choice of Marzouki is the most likely of the three. Whatever his supporters and candidates of the party have said, he never really rejected the idea of an alliance with Ennadha during the campaign – unlike the rest of progressive leaders. The only problem with his candidacy is that Mr. Marzouki wishes to keep the Assembly intact for more than a year – an idea not too popular among the masses and the other parties. CPR is the only major party that has not signed the agreement mandating a fixed one-year life span for the Assembly.

Mustapha Ben Jaafar, the leader of Ettakatol.
Interim Prime Minister Essebsi has said he is considering the offer. Local newspaper El Maghreb reported that he is Enndha’s first choice.

The nomination of Mustapha Ben Jaafar, popular politician among Tunisians, could be a very good thing for the Islamic party since they wish to offer the country a “largeunited government”. However, Jaafar’s party members have voiced their concerns over such a nomination since Ettakatol leaders had said many times that they would not have such an alliance.

One major aspect that could really make a difference at the Assembly is the formation of a majority government – one that would have the power to name the interim government and to write the country’s first constitution. The next decisions that are made could have a very long-term impact on Tunisia – surely this is a sign that the election was a historic event…

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