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Ghannouchi: Government will not resign before choosing an independent electoral commission and completing the constitution

February 5, 2014 at 2:11 am

Rashid Ghannouchi, the head of the Tunisian Al-Nahda Party, which is currently leading the ruling coalition in Tunisia, reiterated on Thursday his party’s refusal to recognise the resignation of Ali Lareed’s government before the formation of an independent electoral commission and the completion of the draft constitution.

In his remarks, made on the side-lines of the Algerian Al-Nahda Conference held in Algiers, Ghannouchi said, “The government will resign after the other terms on which the dialogue was established are met, i.e. choosing an independent electoral commission and completing the country’s constitution.”

The Algerian Al-Nahda is an Islamic-oriented movement that has adopted a moderate position and rejects violence. It was founded in March 1989 by Sheikh Saad Abdullah Jaballah, who left the group in 1999, and its current Secretary General is Fateh Rebiai.

Ghannouchi pointed out that, “this process (the National Dialogue Conference) has three integral branches: the election of the Independent Commission, the preparation of the constitution and the resignation of the government. If any one of them is hindered, then the courses of the other two would be halted until the faults are fixed.”

He also explained that “the dialogue stopped for reasons beyond the government and the National Conference for Dialogue; it was because the Administrative Court suspended the process of forming the independent electoral commission.”

Last Monday, the Tunisian administrative court contested the work of the screening committee of the Constituent Assembly (the interim parliament) tasked with the formation of an Independent High Authority for the elections, which led to a halt in the commission’s work.”

The administrative court is a constitutional judicial institution founded in 1972. It has independent judicial authority in administrative affairs, as well as other advisory privileges.

Moreover, the leader of the party ruling the coalition explained that: “Tunisia is overseeing a third transitional stage and is preparing for the elections that will determine its transition a success. These will be held after the constitution is complete, the independent electoral commission is formed, and a technocratic (non-partisan) government is approved in order to eliminate any pretext for questioning the results of the election.”

In response to the escalating wave of violence in Tunisia, Ghannouchi said, “Violence has no future in Tunisia, we are sure of this, despite our recognition of the present dangers.”

On the reason for his optimism, Ghannouchi added, “Violence in Tunisia is a remnant of former President Ben Ali’s rule, which was characterised by restrictions on freedoms. However the revolution eliminated the reasons for violence by restoring freedoms and peaceful political action. Therefore, there is no longer an objective justification for violence other than being influenced by international terrorist groups.”

The president praised the Renaissance Movement’s security cooperation with Algeria, saying, “There is intensified cooperation between Algeria, Tunisia, and between the armies of the two countries to combat all forms of terrorism and violence. This cooperation is not only limited to the security aspects, but also includes cooperation in the economic and commercial sectors.”

Regarding his position on the recent diplomatic crisis between Algeria and Morocco and its impact on uniting the Maghreb, he explained that, “We call for the unity of the Maghreb Al-Arabi, and this wouldn’t have happened if the unity project was completed.”

In response to a question on what some see as a tendency of the Arab revolutions to fail, Ghannouchi said, “this is not true, but there are some relapses, such as the events in Egypt. However the Egyptian people are holding on to their revolution and freedoms and continue to defend it, so the coup’s justifications will not hold up much longer.”

Ghannouchi attended the opening of the Fifth Conference of the Algerian Al-Nahda Party, which was held on Friday, along with delegations from several Arab countries including: Mauritanian preacher Mohammed Hassan Ould Deddew; representatives of the Mauritanian Tawassoul Party; the representative of the Palestinian Hamas movement in Lebanon, Ali Baraka; leaders of the Moroccan JCO; and representatives from the Jerusalem Foundation.

The conference is expected to last three days, during which time the new members of the Algerian Al-Nahda Shura Council will be elected. Moreover, decisions will be made regarding the party’s positions regarding political affairs, such as the upcoming presidential election in Algeria. The current Secretary-General, Fateh Rebiai, is expected to be re-elected for another term in office, according to official sources from the party who spoke to Anadolu news agency.

Since the assassination of the Tunisian opposition leader Shukri Belaid on 6 February, Tunisia has witnessed a political crisis that escalated after the assassination of opposition MP Mohammad Brahman on 25 July. This led to demonstrations demanding the resignation of the government, the dissolution of parliament, and the formation of a National Salvation government led by national figures who are not running in the upcoming elections.

The quartet sponsoring the national dialogue announced two weeks ago the suspension of the national dialogue, which began on 25 October after the failure of the political forces to reach a consensus regarding the head of the next government.

The quartet consists of the following groups: the General Tunisian Labour Union; the Union of Industry, Commerce, and Artisans; the Lawyer’s Union; and the Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights.