The head of the Tunisian Ennahda Movement, Rached Ghannouchi, expressed his readiness to relinquish the presidency of the movement in the event that “any party presents a settlement to the Tunisian problem,” stressing that he does not have a personal problem with Tunisian President Kais Saied, but rather with absolute rule and tyranny.
Ghannouchi – who served as Speaker of Parliament before it was dissolved by Said – considered that “the majority of the Tunisian people are in a state of resistance” to the course of the country’s President Qais Saeed, and that adapting to the new situation “is not on the table.”
He added in an interview with Anadolu Agency that “the blessed revolution (December 17, 2010-14 January 2011) was not brought by America or France, but we were surprised by it, and the 2014 constitution was brought by the Tunisian people, and we should not distort our revolution.”
Ghannouchi continued, “The counter-revolution is what says that the revolutions of the Arab Spring are a Hebrew Spring.”
Since July 25, 2021, Tunisia has been experiencing a severe political crisis when Said took exceptional measures, including dismissing the government and appointing others, dissolving the Judicial Council and Parliament, issuing legislation by presidential decrees, passing a new constitution for the country through a referendum on May 25, and submitting parliamentary elections to December 17 next.
Tunisian forces – including Ennahda, which has the largest bloc in the dissolved parliament – consider these measures a “coup against the 2014 constitution and the consolidation of absolute individual rule”, while other forces see it as a “correction of the course of the 2011 revolution.”
As for Saeed, who began in 2019 a 5-year presidential term, he said more than once that his measures are legal and necessary to save Tunisia from a “total collapse.”
violation of national sovereignty
Regarding external positions criticizing the low rate of participation in the referendum on the draft constitution (30.5%), Ghannouchi said, “Before talking about the positions of Western countries on the referendum, we are proud of the positions of the Tunisian people regarding the elections, that they boycotted them as an expression of awareness.”
He added, “The world was crowned the Tunisian revolution and the Tunisian democratic transition with the Nobel Prize and the Peace Prize for Gandhi and many other prizes received by the presidents of Tunisia, and if he was surprised by a coup, the world, as he praised Tunisia at that time, is now criticizing it.”
He considered that “the people elected Saeed (73%) in 2019, and brought him down to 23% in the referendum (the official figure is 30.5%), which indicates that Mr. Qais has lost the popularity with which he rose.”
Ghannouchi considered that “national sovereignty is violated in other areas… when international institutions stipulate certain conditions for Tunisia, such as closing public institutions, preventing employment and preventing wage increases, and we submit to that. No one says this is international interference,” referring to Tunisia’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and its stipulations. procedures for financial aid.
He added, “As for when someone criticizes us because we rigged the elections, and because we confiscated freedoms and attacked human rights, we say let us strike our people as we want, and shut up and no one interferes,” as he put it.
Constitution and elections
Regarding what Ennahda will do after the constitution is approved, and Said went to approve a new political system and hold parliamentary elections, Ghannouchi said, “What happened from the referendum did not change our position, but rather confirmed it. We were rejecting this referendum.”
He continued, “It is the counter-revolution that conspired against the revolution, and over the 10 years of the revolution I considered them as black years and ruin to justify the coup.”
He added, “We said from the beginning that we will resist, and for a year we were alone in the arena of resistance, and now the majority of the Tunisian people are in a state of resistance to the coup and its consequences,” as he put it.
Regarding Said’s accusation of his opponents of treason and coercion, Ghannouchi said, “When we were in the square fighting against (former president Habib) Bourguiba (1956-1987) and against Ben Ali, those who described us as treason were not present.”
Regarding the new constitution, Ghannouchi said, “It is a fait accompli. Yes, this constitution and this referendum are two tools for imposing a fait accompli to legitimize the coup, but it remains a coup, and it is our duty and that of the people to resist the coup.”
Unite the opposition
Regarding the dispersal of the opposition despite its agreement to reject the referendum and the process of July 25 in general, Ghannouchi said that “the opposition is united in its goals, there are at least two groups that carry the same goals, even if they do not move in one rallies, the meeting is a matter of time because people meet in ideas and goals and then coalesce.” their ranks.”
On the criticism leveled at him for continuing to lead his movement and the requirement of some forces to withdraw, Ghannouchi replied that “the parties are entities that have their machinery, and their institutions are the ones that determine their policies and leaders.”
He added, “We do not interfere with another party to keep this or that leadership, and the movement (Ennahda) is the only party in the country that has so far accomplished 10 (general) conferences in its history, while there are parties that were formed and even ruled without holding a single conference.”
He continued, “The leadership of the movement and the presidency of the council or any other presidency is an easy matter and little in front of Tunisia’s interest, and therefore if any party offers us a settlement of the Tunisian problem that requires this sacrifice from us, this is an easy matter, but if we take the initiative to give up our position, it is in the interest of whom and the desire of whom?”
Ghannouchi said, “We do not have a problem with the person of Mr. Qais or with anyone, but rather we have a problem with a type of government that concentrates all the authorities in one hand (…) We are not tempted by words and expressions, but we look at the essence of the issue: is the ruling individual or consultative?”