Tu­nisia’s En­nahda puts cor­rup­tion and poverty at top of agenda

The National - News - - NEWS - SI­MON SPEAKMAN CORDALL

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

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