Caid Essebsi launches opposition party
By Houda Trabelsi for Magharebia in Tunis – 21/06/12
Former Interim Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi launched a new moderate political movement last week designed to balance the nation's fractured polity.
The "Call of Tunisia" was unveiled Saturday (June 16th) at the Convention Centre in Tunis before thousands of supporters. The new political party will be open to anyone who wishes to counter the ruling Islamist party Ennahda and its "hegemony", according to the former premier.
That includes past members of the now-disbanded Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), something that drew criticism from members of the current government.
Samir Ben Amor, an adviser to the president, claimed the initiative was "an attempt by remnants of the former regime and the holders of corrupt money to return to the political arena".
"The Tunisian people expressed their desire to break with the past and look to the future through a new political leadership in the revolutionary government," Ben Amor added.
For his part, Caid Essebsi said the current administration was unable to manage the affairs of the country, pointing to the recent curfew following salafist riots. The former prime minister said the political scene was "defective and unbalanced", with many parties scattered and divided.
"Making the Tunisia of the future is our duty, all of us. And it is an effort that will not be achieved without participation by all Tunisians, without exclusion," Caid Essebsi said. "I take this opportunity to renew my objection to the calls of exclusion launched by some against Constitutionalists without right and for factional and electoral objectives. The judiciary alone can determine the responsibilities and accountability on the basis of individual responsibility."
He added that it was not possible to arbitrarily deprive former RCD members from "their right to participate in the building of the new Tunisia so long as they and others, including those currently in power, accept the rules of democracy that renounce political monopoly".
"Tunisia needs the spirit, the letter and the policy of genuine reconciliation," Caid Essebsi said.
Human rights activist and one of the founders of the Call of Tunisia movement Mohsen Marzouk said the initiative created mixed emotions. "On the one hand, a strong current sweeping Tunisian public opinion saw a glimmer of real hope for creating political balance in Tunisia, a guarantee to avoid obtaining a monopoly of political life, and an honest promise to protect the Tunisian state and the freedoms and moderate Muslim lifestyle of Tunisians and to ensure the objectives of the revolution for freedom and justice."
Others, he added, saw the movement as an obstacle to their own political aspirations.
Ahmed Bessadek told Magharebia he supported the new political party because "there must be another political force to alter the balance".
"The country is experiencing a catastrophic situation at all levels. The economy has deteriorated to the point that the country is on the brink of bankruptcy, and socially the number of unemployed has doubled what it was in 2010," he said. "And the wave of strikes and protests has impeded the country's economy."
Bessadek also expressed concern over "the phenomenon of the increasing number of militants", who he considered to be affiliated with the Ennahda movement. He claimed Ennahda played on the religious feelings of Tunisians, dividing people between supporters and opponents of Islamic law.
"I believe a moderate movement that does not include extremists is a lifeboat for Tunisians and for the tourism-based Tunisian economy," he added.
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