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Tunisian opposition parties form new political front - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Tunisian demonstrators hold banners reading in Arabic: "leave" as they flash the sign for victory and shout slogans during a demonstration calling for the government's resignation in Tunis on August 31, 2013. Demonstrators formed a human chain stretching three kilometres (two miles) from parliament to the Kasbah, where the government headquarters are located (AFP PHOTO / SALAH HABIBI)

Tunisian demonstrators hold banners reading “leave
in Arabic as they flash the sign for victory and shout slogans during a demonstration calling for the government’s resignation in Tunis on August 31, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/SALAH HABIBI)

Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat—The leader of Tunisia’s Tamarod (Rebellion) movement, Mohamed Balnour, claimed on Saturday that 1,700,000 Tunisians had signed a petition calling for the dissolution of the country’s parliament.

Balnour told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that the movement was still collecting signatures, and would continue to pressure the government to dissolve Tunisia’s parliament, the Constituent Assembly. He said they would also work to force the existing government out, irregardless of attempts to broker a new coalition between between the government and the opposition.

He also denied that the Tamarod Tunis Movement had ever received any suspect funding, and said the reason why the movement disowned a number of its members was because of the ambiguity surrounding some of the sources of funding.

Balnour said the ruling troika, the governing coalition of three parties led by the Ennahda Movement, was illegitimate. He also called for international and public monitoring of the next presidential and parliamentary elections.

Speaking about the results of the national dialogue, he said: “Dialogue with parties that have the blood of Tunisians on their hands cannot lead to positive results.”

He added that the ruling tripartite coalition had to leave power as soon as possible, in order to restore Tunisians’ faith in the political process. He said: “The troika will never give up. Even if it only had one leg left to walk on, it would not hesitate to smash the opposition parties.”

Balnour accused the ruling coalition of “political maneuvering” and said signs of political dissent had cropped up between members of the ruling tripartite coalition, and that what the opposition only needed to continue to increase the pressure on the government until it responded to the demands of the Tunisian street.

On the current dialogue between the government and the opposition, and the possibility of reaching a political settlement leading to an end to the political crisis, Balnour said the Tunisian draft constitution in its current form should not be presented to the members of the Constituent Assembly, and that it was important for the new draft constitution to be presented to a committee of constitutional law experts to amend some if its “darker” chapters.

In the meantime, opposition parties yesterday rejected a suggestion from the governing coalition about dissolving the government, which has been led by the Ennahda Movement for nearly two years, on September 29. The opposition gave Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh’s government a two-week deadline to dissolve itself and asked for a list of names of those the coalition was going to nominate for the premiership before the start of the new rounds of national dialogue.

Opposition sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that former Bank of Tunisia governor Mustapha Kamel Nabli was the strong favorite to lead the next government. According to them, Tunisia needs a prime minister who has enough knowledge of economic issues and ways to deal with the economic and financial difficulties currently facing Tunisia.

In another development, four Tunisian opposition parties have announced the establishment of a new political front called the Constitutional National Initiative, in a step which strengthens the presence of former regime figures in the political arena.

The front will include the Free Nation Party, the Initiative Party, the Reform and Unity Party, and the Zarqaa El-Yamama Party.

Mohamed Jagham, secretary of the Free Nation Party, who previously held ministerial positions in the government of ousted president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, said during the inaugural conference of the party held on Saturday that “the new party aims to assemble constitutionalists and achieve consensus among them,” pointing to “the sacrifices of the Constitutional Liberal Party in order to achieve Tunisian independence and build the modern Tunisian state.”

For his part, Kamal Morjan, secretary-general of the Initiative Party, and the last foreign minister under Ben Ali, said “the Constitutional National Initiative party would work within the correct constitutional authority as a mark of loyalty to the reformist Bourguiba ideology.” He added that it will also work on “attracting the largest number of constitutional fighters to contribute through their qualifications, for the advancement of the country.”

After the judiciary decided to dissolve the Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD)—which ruled Tunisia for 23 years until it was toppled in the revolution of January 14 2011—experienced politicians who served under Ben Ali have formed new parties, giving prominence to the terms “constitutional” and “Bourguiba” (Tunisia’s first post-independence leader) in their names and public discourse.

Politicians from the Constitutional Initiative parties say they represent an extension of the reform movement in Tunisia and the Constitutional Liberal Party, before the party deviated from the path of democracy during the rule of Habib Bourguiba and his successor, Ben Ali.