Tunisia’s Ennahda puts corruption and poverty at top of agenda
Tunisia’s Ennahda placed efforts to tackle corruption and poverty at the heart of its plans after confirming it had started talks to try to form a government after inconclusive elections in October.
The moderate Islamists, who won the highest share of the vote but fell well short of a majority in October 6 national polls, said on Friday they were talking to parties that include the secular Democratic Current and the leftist People’s Movement.
Talks are also understood to be under way with the l’Union populaire Republicaine and the Islamist coalition Al Karam.
Ennahda won 52 seats in last month’s vote, far short of the 109 seats it needs to command a majority in the country’s parliament – the Assembly of the Representatives of the People.
The party will have one month to form a government after being officially asked to do so by the newly elected president, former law professor Kais Saied. If Ennahda is unable to form a government within that time, the party can request an extension of 10 days before the task falls to Mr Saied.
Should Mr Saied also prove unable to form a government, the country will be forced to return to the polls.
Complicating matters is Ennahda’s refusal to consider an alliance with either the second-placed party, Qalb Tounes, (Heart of Tunisia), that gained 38 seats, or the Free Destourian Party, with 17 seats, widely regarded as apologists for the regime of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who was ousted during the country’s 2011 uprising.
Acrimony between Ennahda and Qalb Tounes was evident throughout the campaign.
Nabil Karoui, the leader of Qalb Tounes and the presidential run-off candidate who spent the bulk of the electoral period in jail on corruption charges, blamed Ennahda for his detention as well as many of the long-term challenges, such as rural poverty, that continue to plague Tunisia.
Ennahda, which has served in every post-revolutionary government, points to the numerous allegations against Mr Karoui, which they say would run counter to their efforts to fight the coruption many say has become endemic in Tunisian public life.
The minister of higher education and research, Khalil Amiri, said that the party was focused on tackling corruption and poverty and building the economy.
There has been little progress in the fight against corruption or efforts to improve the plight of the country’s unemployed people since the 2011 revolt.
Disillusionment with political classes remains widespread, with turnout in national elections only 42 per cent.
The party has started holding talks to try to form a government after inconclusive elections in October