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Tunisian Revolution on Track-Ghannouchi - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat—Tunisia’s Ennahda party leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, expressed his hope of seeing the formation of a broad-based government before the end of the current week. Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ghannouchi said, “We would like to see all national parties to shoulder the burden of democratic transformation” adding “some forces responded to our calls while others chose the opposition.”

The Ennahda leader stressed, “The biggest accomplishment of the revolution is the freedom that our country is enjoying, making it a model for how to combine Islamists and modernity. This represents a challenge to the dictatorial powers in the world, and the domestic forces that benefited from this (dictatorship) have therefore issued calls to topple this (model). In fact, there were attempts to get rid of this before it had even been established as demonstrated by the calls for foreign intervention; however those responsible for these calls remain isolated.”

Ghannouchi also attacked those calling for the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, speculating that “perhaps this was one of the objectives of the assassination of (Chokri) Belaid.” He added, “We believe that Belaid’s assassination is part of the conspiracy against the revolution and the coalition government led by Ennahda. We believe that these bullets were aimed at the Ennahda party, the revolution, and all those fighting for the revolution.”

The Ennahda leader also told Asharq Al-Awsat, “We are pursuing the same course, despite being exposed to more difficulties and challenges. This calls for the creation of a national front that becomes more united the more it is tested.”

Ghannouchi also expressed his hope that “the blood that was shed will sprout flowers.” He emphasized that “those who oppose Ennahda have forgotten that Ennahda is the backbone of the country, so when Ben Ali worked to eradicate Ennahda he destroyed all of society and the national forces.” Ghannouchi attributed this social destruction to the national forces unwillingness to stand up for the Ennahda movement, saying “The destruction of Ennahda means the destruction of the country’s backbone,” adding “Ennahda is the older brother of the national powers.”

Regarding Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali’s position, he said “Our prime minister is leading a project to reform the government by calling for a government of national competencies.” Ghannouchi stressed, “We renew our confidence in the government of Hamadi Jebali to overcome adversity and regroup. We support every initiative to save the nation, however we believe that the only government capable of revitalizing the country is a comprehensive national coalition government.”

The Ennahda party leader also indicated that “we are in discussions with the national powers, including the Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties (FDTL), the Congress for the Republic (CPR), the Independent Democratic Alliance, and the Wafa Movement. Our doors are open to all to form a government of national competencies with broad national representation, and participation within the government and parliament.”

As for certain parties—including within the Ennahda party itself—rejecting Jebali’s call for the formation of a technocrat government, Ghannouchi said “No government can survive unless it enjoys the support of the Constituent Assembly, the country at large, and the political parties themselves.”

He told Asharq Al-Awsat, “Consultation between ourselves and the prime minister and national parties is on-going . . . and we will have a government made up of national competencies with political representation by the end of the week. We do not imagine that there can by any democratic government that is not based on the party system.”

Ghannouchi also issued a direct appeal to the Tunisian people, saying “We call on our people to unite and foil the enemies of the revolution and their interferences which aim to abort the revolution and call for foreign intervention. It is important for democratic transformation to be in the interest of all citizens and all Arabs, Muslims and the West. This government enjoys support, so don’t believe that there is a foreign plot to topple the government.”

However Ghannouchi acknowledged, “Yes, there is a force that does not want any overlap between democracy and Islam, or modernity and Islam, but this will not affect us.”

Addressing the international community, Ghannouchi said, “We assure our friends abroad in the Arab and Islamic world, as well as the West, that the Tunisian revolution is on track to achieve its objectives in terms of democracy, development, and national unity. We are all in the same boat and this boat will only reach its destination if we can unite and cooperate and leave hatred aside.”

He lauded the strength of the Tunisian people, saying “There are no people as united as the Tunisians, and we must trust, first and foremost, in God Almighty, and then in our people, for the first spark of freedom was came from this country.”

As for the challenges of the death of Belaid, Ghannouchi reiterated his view that “this incident must be looked at as an anomaly and a criminal act that must not be repeated. We hope to see the perpetrator in the dock and our hearts liberated from enmity. We are committed to achieving the objectives of the revolution, and the people will have a national government that brings together all competencies and the major parties in the country. Trust in God, then the people, then the elites, in our nation and our government which is on track to achieve its objectives.”