A dispute between Tunisia’s Ennahda movement and the Nida Tounes party on one hand and the unity government of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on the other threatens to plunge Tunisia into a fresh crisis, according to Burhan Besis, political affairs chief for Nida Tounes.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Thursday, Besis discussed the political crisis that erupted after signatories to the Carthage 2 Agreement (five political parties, including Ennahda and Nida Tounes, along with Tunisia’s leading trade unions) fell out over calls for a “radical overhaul” of the government.
“This dispute puts Tunisia’s future in jeopardy,” he said. “The scope of the crisis is too deep to be resolved by ordinary political maneuvering.”
Nida Tounes and the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) both want to see a “radical overhaul” of the government, including a sweeping cabinet reshuffle.
But the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts and the Union of Agriculture and Fisheries — both formidable organizations in Tunisia’s business world — say such a move would damage the country’s stability.
After the dispute erupted between the agreement’s signatories, President Beji Caid Essebsi announced the suspension of Carthage 2.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, PM Chahed accused Nida Tounes leader Hafedh Caid Essebsi (who is also the president’s son) of “destroying” the party and precipitating a political crisis.
“Politics is about results, not intentions,” Besis said. “Ennahda’s attitude has divided political parties and representatives of civil society.”
He blamed Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi for failing to preserve the Carthage 2 agreement, going on to warn of the possible collapse of political consensus and the possibility of UGTT activists hitting the streets.
Describing the current unity government as “illegitimate”, Besis said there were no objections to a 2019 presidential run by Chahed as long as the latter “doesn’t use his executive power as a political tool during elections”.
Besis also called on Tunisia’s main political forces to resolve their differences through dialogue.
“All options, including the resignation of Nida Tounes ministers and the questioning of government officials by parliament, remain on the table,” he said.