Jebali announced his resignation from Ennahda on Thursday, citing his disagreement with the Islamist movement’s “management” and “political strategy” as reasons for his decision.
In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the 65 year-old politician said his resignation decision was “final” and “responsible,” in contrast to reports of Ennahda’s attempts to dissuade him from leaving.
Jebali became prime minister in 2011, after Ennahda won the first election following downfall of Tunisia’s former president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. In February, 2013 he resigned from his post after his party rejected his proposal to form a national unity government to end the political crisis that gripped the country after the assassination of the left-wing politician Chokri Belaid.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Jebali predicted that despite the recent successful parliamentary elections and the upcoming second round of the presidential election, many Tunisians will look back on the first three years that followed Ben Ali’s ouster with fondness, in stark contrast to what lies ahead.
The ex-prime minister warned that despite the fact that Ennahda had eventually agreed to share power with other political parties, “advocates of monopolizing power have the upper hand today.”
“The battle for freedoms is ongoing and will not stop at what has been achieved so far,” he added. “The real battle [remains] . . . freedoms [and slogans] do not guarantee the country’s future.”
He also voiced concerns over the “dominance” of some of political parties during the transition, citing the “undemocratic nature” of comments from politicians in the recent presidential elections, which he declined to identify.
In a move which is likely to fuel speculation about his political ambitions, the Islamist politician declined to comment on recent reports that he intended to form a new party with outgoing President Moncef Marzouki.
Jebali’s resignation has fuelled rumours the two politicians may be teaming up to form a new party, called the Freedom Party.
If the reports prove accurate, it will not be the first time Ennahda has seen a defection from among its senior ranks. In 2013, Riadh Chaibi left the Islamist group after he accused it of abandoning the goals of the 2011 revolution and caving in to pressure from its political opponents.
He subsequently founded a new party, Al-Bina Al-Watani, with several other former members of Ennahda.