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Tunisia: Popular Front faces collapse due to presidential candidacy crisis

Tunisian leader of the Popular Front and spokesman of the Tunisian Workers' Party Hamma Hammami (C) attends a meeting in the capital Tunis with all political parties to decide on the date of the next municipal elections on 18 September 2017 [FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images]
Tunisian leader of the Popular Front and spokesman of the Tunisian Workers' Party Hamma Hammami (C) attends a meeting in the capital Tunis with all political parties to decide on the date of the next municipal elections on 18 September 2017 [FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images]

The Popular Front, a Tunisian opposition party, risks losing its parliamentary bloc following the resignation of nine of its MPs a few months before the elections.

On Tuesday, nine MPs of the Popular Front’s parliamentary bloc submitted their resignation to the Parliament’s regulation office, which is expected to decide on the resignations later.

The Popular Front bloc has 15 seats in parliament. Thus, in case the MPs’ resignations become final and official five days after its submission, according to the law, the bloc will be dissolved as the minimum number of MPs per parliamentary bloc should not be less than eight.

The MPs’ resignation, which followed the emergence of internal disagreements between the Workers’ Party and the Democratic Patriots‘ Unified Party over the party’s candidate for the 17 November presidential elections, was considered as a significant blow to the Popular Front, a coalition of left-wing parties, nationalist opposition, and independent politicians.

The Workers’ Party supports the nomination of the party’s leader, official spokesman for the Popular front and prominent political figure Hamma Hammami, for the presidential elections. It is worth noting that Hammami has run for the 2014 presidential race and ranked the third before withdrawing from the first round.

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Jilani Hammami, leader in the Popular Front, who supports the candidacy of Hamma Hammami told the Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA) that ”the MPs’ resignation confirms the Democratic Patriots‘ Unified Party’s desire to damage the Popular Front and give the public opinion the impression that the main difference revolves around the selection the presidential candidate, which is not true.”

He added that “the leaders of the Democratic Patriots‘ Unified Party withdrew from the Popular Front for several months and we have made many attempts to negotiate with them, however, we failed. There are eight parties within the Popular Front supporting the nomination of Hamma Hamami, yet, the Democratic Patriots‘ Unified Party refused to accept the majority’s choice.”

On the other hand, another wing in the Popular Front supports MP Monji Al-Rahawi’s candidacy for this year’s election. Thus, Al-Rahawi, who is a leader of the Democratic Patriots‘ Unified Party, called earlier for an extensive consultation that includes the Popular Front’s members to discuss the party’s choice of the presidential candidate.

Heikal Belkacem, one of the MPs who resigned from the Popular Front’s parliamentary bloc, attributed his resignation to the absence of institutions which can settle the differences between the components of the party, amid ongoing preparations for Tunisia’s upcoming legislative elections on 6 October.

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