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Tunisia: Opposition holds firm to conditions for resuming dialogue - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Tunisia's ruling Islamist Ennahda party's leader Rachid Ghannouchi (L) and executive board's member Ameur Larayedh (R) attend a meeting as part of talks with the opposition aimed at implementing a roadmap to end a three-month political crisis on October 25, 2013 in Tunis. (AFP)

The leader of Tunisia’s ruling Islamist Ennahda party, Rachid Ghannouchi (L), and executive board member Amer Laarayedh (R) attend a meeting as part of talks with the opposition aimed at implementing a roadmap to end a three-month political crisis on October 25, 2013, in Tunis. (AFP PHOTO/SALAH HABIBI)

Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Tunisian opposition has renewed its calls for Ali Laarayedh’s government to resign and withdraw amendments recently introduced to the Constituent Assembly, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.

The opposition said it would not return to the political dialogue—suspended since November 4—unless those two conditions are met.

Those monitoring the political arena in Tunisia agree that the ruling Ennahda Movement has benefited from the mistakes committed by the opposition, including its failure to manage the national dialogue, and take advantage of the political crisis to secure the ouster of the ruling Islamist party.

The opposition has so far failed to take advantage of the government’s mishandling of the political and security crisis that has engulfed the country following the assassination of two prominent secular political leaders, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, in February and July, respectively.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Socialist Party head Mohamed Kilani said that the opposition has failed to achieve its demands due to the absence of a clear strategy for dealing with the government.

Kilani said that the opposition has committed a fatal mistake by issuing new demands too frequently. The dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and the overthrow of the government have been among the key opposition demands.

According to Kilani, the opposition is acting on the basis that the country is going through a “revolutionary situation,” while in fact it is a transitional period that requires a process of reform. He criticized the opposition’s “confrontational” approach, with anti-government protesters demanding the dissolution of the only democratically elected constitutional institution in the country.

Regarding the future of the relationship between the government and the opposition, Kilani said that the solution to the crisis is in the Ennahda party’s hands, adding that the Islamist movement has taken advantage of the opposition’s over-reaching ambitions to shrewdly and successfully manage the successive political crises gripping the country.

Hamma El-Hammami, spokesman for the opposition Popular Front—a coalition of left-wing and nationalist parties—told Asharq Al-Awsat that the government must meet a number of conditions before the resumption of dialogue.

Hammami, who heads Tunisia’s Communist Workers’ Party, revealed that these conditions include the withdrawal of amendments to the Constituent Assembly, prior agreement on the the post of prime minister, and guarantees that the Constituent Assembly and presidency will uphold the agreements reached during the National Dialogue.

The Popular Front has accused the ruling troika—which consists of the Islamist Ennahda, Mutamir and Ettakatol parties—of political maneuvering, holding firm to power and ignoring ideas put forward to solve the escalating political crisis in the country.

Hammami called on the Quartet sponsoring Tunisia’s National Dialogue—the Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights, Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), and the National Association of Lawyers—to be more “rigorous” in dealing with those who breach the roadmap or violate its terms.

The Quartet is expecting the dialogue to resume its official sessions early next week, once a nominee to replace Ali Laarayedh as prime minister has been selected.

In a recent survey conducted by Tunisia’s Istishraf wa Tanmya (Prediction and Development) society, 76 percent of Tunisians said they were completely dissatisfied with the government’s performance.

On the other hand, the opposition was not spared from the public’s anger. According to the same survey, 73 percent of Tunisians are dissatisfied with the opposition’s recent performance.