Tunisian President Prepares for The National Dialogue, Brotherhood Ennahda Movement Will not Be Invited

Tunisian President Kais Saied is preparing to call for a national dialogue aimed at “building the new republic,” days after he dissolved parliament, which had been suspended for over more than eight months.  

Over recent days, Saied has intensified meetings in preparation for launching the long-awaited national dialogue at a time when the country faces several challenges, including a severe economic crisis. For these challenges to be handled, experts say, there is need for consensus on a number of reforms proposed by international donors such as the International Monetary Fund, which is currently negotiating a rescue package with Tunisia.

Observers say the Brotherhood Islamist Ennahda Movement will not be invited to join the national dialogue, especially after its recent manoeuvre against the presidency, which Saied described as a failed coup attempt.

The president dissolved parliament last week, dealing another blow to the political class that has ruled the country since 2011 uprising which sparked the Arab Spring.

The move came eight months after Saied sacked the government and froze parliament on July 25, later moving to rule by decree in moves which opponents have dubbed a “coup”.

The Assistant Secretary-General of the Tunisian General Labour Union, Sami Taheri, said that the expected national dialogue will be open to all, except for those who want to return to before July 25 and are trying to push the country into a dispute over legitimacy.

Taheri was apparently referring to former MPs and their political groupings, who took part in an online plenary session  and voted through a bill against Saied’s “exceptional measures.”

“The president of the republic did give details when he met us to discuss his plans regarding the political system and other issues. I think that this will be presented during the national dialogue,” Taheri told Al-Arabiya.

The recent developments come at a time when plans for the “new republic” remain shrouded in mystery, with no details about the president’s vision for a system of government, the electoral law, a law on parties and associations and other issues. However, a national consultation was launched in early January, in which about 500,000 Tunisians participated. Saied said earlier that the results of that consultation will be taken into account.

During the presentation of the results by the Minister of Technologies Nizar Balnaji and in the presence of Prime Minister Najla Bouden, Saied said in a video clip published by the presidency that the consultation “could serve as a basis for national dialogue, but the dialogue will not be with those who wanted to overthrow the state and divide society.”

Regarding the reforms that Tunisians consider necessary to develop political life, 60.8 percent chose to amend the electoral law and 44.4 percent suggested amending the parties’ law.

The outcome of the consultation show that 86.4 percent of participants want a presidential system in the country instead of the parliamentary structure that was stipulated by the 2014 constitution.

More than 35 percent of the participants favoured amending the current (2014) constitution, compared to 36.5 percent who opted for drafting an entirely new document.

The Islamist Ennahda Movement strongly rejects a return to the presidential system of government. It is clinging to the parliamentary system, which, according to Tunisian observers, had enabled it to rule without taking responsibility for the results that led to a severe economic crisis in the country.

Political analyst Nabil Rabhi said that the expected national dialogue would be different from all other dialogues that had taken place in Tunisia in recent years, as it would bring together all national forces with the exclusion of those who “were involved in abuses and orchestrated a coup” against the will of Tunisians.

Rabhi confirmed to Al-Arabiya that “the political system, the election law, the decree of parties and associations, as well as the voting mechanism will be amended.”

Regarding the system of government expected to be adopted in Tunisia, he said, “The question that will be asked in the referendum is whether you prefer a presidential or parliamentary system,” and Tunisians would decide.


Arab Observer

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