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Nidaa Tounes dissenters set to announce Tunisia First Party

June 24, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Tunisians wave the national flag in the southern city of Tatouine on 11 April, 2017

The former leader of Nidaa Tounes Party, Boudjemaa Remili, has told Quds Press that a number of the party’s senior members are intending to form a new party. Tunisia First looks set to be launched, he said, after efforts to reform Nidaa Tounes failed.

“We have officially submitted a file to the secretary of state about our intention to establish a new party,” explained Remili. “We have made preparations centrally and regionally for drafting texts and programmes for the party.”

He explained that he and his colleagues were the founders of Nidaa Tounes Party and tried to avoid division. “Unfortunately, there was a shift away from the principles upon which the party was founded. In view of our experience and political expertise, we decided, in the same spirit with which we founded Nidaa Tounes, to establish a new political party with the original principles.”

One of the most noticeable manifestations of the shift in Nidaa Tounes, Remili pointed out, is that it has been tainted by autocracy and an attempted monopoly rather than a collective effort. “This has no place in post-revolution Tunisia,” he insisted. “This unilateral leadership has destabilised the balance that had been achieved in the country. Nidaa Tounes has turned into one of Ennahdha Party’s allies, and this is also a serious deviation.”

Remili criticised the bringing in of media and political figures and giving them leadership positions in Nidaa Tounes, although they have nothing to do with the party and its foundation. “This is part of the attempt to circumvent the deficit reached by the leadership team. It recruited personnel and dismissed the founding fathers in a totally unacceptable way.” Such new members, he claimed, are in positions that they do not deserve. “They have not been welcomed by the party supporters and have just caused it to sink instead of saving it.”

Among the dissidents who are founding the new party are Ridha Belhaj, Fawzi Maawiyah, Nasser Shuweikha and Khamis K’ssila, as well as Remili.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi was one of the founders of Nidaa Tounes in June 2012 and won the last parliamentary election with 86 seats out of a total of 217. The party was ranked first in terms of MPs, followed by Ennahdha Party, and went on to form a coalition government. Essebsi also won the presidential election in November 2014 to become the successor to President Moncef Marzouki.

Since then, Nidaa Tounes has been going through successive crises that some believe are caused by the president’s bid to have his son Hafedh Caid Essebsi “inherit” the party leadership. However, others believe that the crises are a natural result of the heterogeneous mix of ideologies represented within the party itself. As well as independents, communists and former trade unionists from the Tunisian General Labour Union, there are former members of the defunct Democratic Constitutional Rally, which was the party of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The dictator was overthrown by the popular revolution that broke out in late 2010.