The head of Tunisia's Al-Nahda Party has said that the dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly is a red line that cannot be crossed. Shaikh Rashid Ghannouchi added that he left the door open for dialogue with the opposition over other contested issues.
"We consider the National Constituent Assembly a red line because it is the source of legitimacy," he told journalists after a meeting with Assembly Speaker Mustapha Ben Jafar. "Apart from this, we are open to consensus."
He noted that Al-Nahda is for dialogue, national unity and consensus, and it is open and willing to interact with all initiatives which support consensus among all parties.
Ghannouchi made his position clear as consultations continue between various parties to find a solution for the political impasse facing Tunisia since the assassination of the nationalist opposition figure Mohamed Brahimi. The opposition is now calling for the Constituent Assembly to be dissolved along with all of the institutions that spring from it, including the government and the presidency.
Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly was formed following the elections held on 23 October 2011. Al-Nahda won 89 seats, which enabled it to form a coalition government with the Congress for the Republic Puarty (29 seats) and Ettakatol Party for Labor and Liberties (20 seats).
Opposition parties and a number of civil society associations and organisations believe that the Constituent Assembly lost its legitimacy in October. Al-Nahda, however, insists that it is the only legitimate institution in the country which must be preserved so that the transitional period can be completed.
The wide coalition which forms the opposition is called the Salvation Front. It has suggested the formation of a new government made up of independent figures tasked with providing the appropriate conditions for free and fair elections.
Al-Nahda rejects that suggestion, although it expressed a willingness to expand the current government, given that the Tunisian General Labour Union has already proposed a government of independents.