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Al-Ghannouchi: Current government will not resign unless alternative is ready

February 5, 2014 at 2:12 am

The head of Tunisia’s Islamic movement Al-Nahdah, Sheikh Rashid Al-Ghannouchi, affirmed on Monday that, “the current government will not resign unless an alternative is ready.”

Al-Ghannouchi also denied a deal with former Prime Minister Al-Baji Qa’ed Al-Sebsi to become the next president in return for Al-Nahda continuing as head of the government.

Speaking to Algerian newspaper Al-Khabar, Al-Ghannouchi explained that the government would not immediately resign. “This is not included in the dialogue initiative as a condition, but it was a demand and could be posed conditionally as part of the discussions,” he said.

“The government will only resign after finding an alternative,” Al-Ghannouchi insisted, because it will not leave the country leaderless. He added that the “resignation of the government will be the last measure in completing the transitional stage and so this is left to be decided through national dialogue.”

The leader of the movement, which is heading the current government, said: “We are open to all suggestions and we are still accepting the initiative as the foundation for the discussions.”

According to Al-Ghannouchi, the initiative includes a “search for agreements that lead the country out of the crisis and form a new government, complete a draft constitution, set the date and timetable for the elections and choose an election committee.” He confirmed that all of this would be discussed.

Al-Ghannouchi predicted that the national dialogue would start on Monday or Tuesday, and he denied that any bargain had been reached with Al-Sebsi during a meeting between both men in Paris. He said that they discussed the necessity of all sides cooperating in order to get the country out of the current crisis.

About his country’s relations with Algeria, he said that he felt a real desire to see Tunisia become a stable country. Thus he discussed with the Algerian president the possibility of developing the relations between the two countries on issues such as fighting terrorism, as well as developing security and economic cooperation.

Regarding the Tunisian president’s call for the release of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi during his speech to the UN General Assembly, Al-Ghannouchi said that this call was “natural”.

Since “Al-Marzouqi has lived all his life calling for the release of political prisoners,” he wondered “Why does he not call for that today since Morsi is a political prisoner?”

Meanwhile, Al-Ghannouchi said that summoning the Egyptian and UAE ambassadors in Tunis was “just a summer cloud and will disappear soon”.