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New political front in Tunisia declares hostility to Ennahda

Joint opposition front of ten political parties held at the Conferences Palace in Tunis, Tunisia on April 2, 2017 (Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency )
Joint opposition front of ten political parties attend a meeting to create 'Salvation and Progress Front' held at the Conferences Palace in Tunis, Tunisia on April 2, 2017 (Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency )

A new Tunisian political bloc declared its formation on Sunday and accused the Ennahada movement of being a “reactionist” party, Arabi21 reported.

The bloc, which includes ten political parties, is called the Salvation and Progress Front (SPF). The SPF announced that it would be moving towards achieving economic reform, forming a new political system and to further the other goals of the Tunisian revolution that ousted former dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

Ali Belhaj, who defected from the main Nidaa Tunis party, said in the founding conference of the SPF that “the political scene in Tunisia has started to break up to the benefit of the Ennahda movement due to the divisions within Nidaa Tunis…This threatens the stability of the governing system.”

Read: Tunisia’s democratic transition has some achievements but still faces obstacles

He continued: “Ennahda is currently dominating the political scene because the other parties are divided. This made the establishment of the Front necessary in order to restore the lost balance.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Free Patriotic Union (FPU), Salem Al-Riyahi, accused Ennahda of carrying out “social terrorism.”

“It [Ennahda] runs 13,000 charities across poor neighbourhoods and marginalised cities in the country,” he said. According to Al-Riyahi, Ennahda used these charities not to deliver support, but because it “wants to keep the Tunisian people poor and living on aid.”

Chairman of the Free National Unity Party, Salem Al-Riyah, at the Conferences Palace in Tunis, Tunisia on April 2, 2017. ( Yassine Gaidi – Anadolu Agency )

According to Al-Riyahi, “this is the so-called social terror and it is the spiritual father of religious and Daesh terror which Ennahda is practicing today.”

A senior leader in Ennahda, Osama Al-Sagheer, said that he expected the Front to fail, citing previous experiences. “This happened in the past and it is not for the benefit of Tunisia to call for new divisions that would not benefit the Tunisians,” he told Arabi21.

He continued:

The field is open for new ideas aiming to introduce projects that encourage the Tunisians to participate in the elections. We encourage competition of positive ideas, but calling for division does not serve anyone.

Al-Sagheer added: “The basic project [for this Front] is to be hostile to Ennahda. For that reason, it is a failed project. We advise them to think of something useful for the people. The nation wants to see agreement among Tunisians and unity among factions and positive competition.”

He said that the people behind the Front were looking for a political niche for themselves and they found it in hostility to Ennahda. According to the Ennahda leader, the bloc is trying to attract voters who voted for Nidaa Tunis in 2014 and those who rejected the agreement between Nidaa Tunis and Ennahda.

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