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Tunisia’s Ennahda: ‘We fought corruption, Fakhfakh’s statements a reaction of anger’

Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh speaks during a parliament session with his ministers on June 25, 2020 in Tunis [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]
Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh speaks during a parliament session with his ministers on June 25, 2020 in Tunis [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

The Tunisian Ennahda movement rejected the accusations of resigning Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh on Thursday, stressing that it “has been resisting the corruption” and that his statements are a “reaction that entails irritation”.

Fakhfakh, the head of the caretaker government, announced on Thursday in radio statements that what is happening today is: “A battle between the country’s reformers and the holders of power.”

Khalil Al-Baroumi, spokesman for the Ennahda party (Islamic party – 54 deputies out of 217), told Anadolu Agency: “Fakhfakh’s statements are a reaction that shows anger, especially after the resignation of the government and the beginning of the formation of a new one.”

Last Thursday, the Tunisian presidency announced the acceptance of the resignation submitted by Fakhfakh, after members of parliament had submitted a request to withdraw their trust in his government based on accusations of “conflicts of interest” that Fakhfakh has denied. The resigning PM has replied by dismissing the ministers of the Ennahda party, the largest parliamentary bloc.

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Al-Baroumi added: “Public opinion and the media in Tunisia know that Ennahda did not seek to provoke Fakhfakh by these charges to enlarge the government, because it is an unethical behaviour and we do not take advantage of other people’s weaknesses.”

Ennahda has suggested to Fakhfakh to expand the ruling coalition, in order to mobilise greater political and parliamentary support to facilitate the work of the government, but he refused and called on the movement to invest in the current coalition.

Al-Baroumi continued: “Ennahda stood up to corruption and reformed many aspects within the Tunisian state and administration, but with Fakhfakh, there were no favourable conditions to work in harmony. There were vague slogans without concrete details to create efficient work.”

He stressed that: “Ennahda has always been an unbreakable barrier against those who conspire against the country, those who are enemies of democracy and supporters of chaos and tyranny.”

Fakhfakh disclosed to Express FM on Thursday that: “There are conspirators against Tunisia from inside the country who are afraid of losing their influence and positions. While the conspirators from abroad are mainly those who do not like democracy in the country.”

He considers that what is happening in Tunisia today is a battle for the reform of the country and the protection of power and positions, adding that: “Ennahda represents a large part of these conservatives, and it is not willing to reform the country, as it violates its interests.”

On 13 July, the National Anti-Corruption Commission announced that the documents relating to the declaration of gains and the suspicion of a conflict of interest related to Fakhfakh had been referred to both the judicial authorities and to parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi.

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Fakhfakh announced on Thursday: “I have declared my property, including my shares in three companies. The conflict of interest is not an accusation, but a situation that I managed within given deadlines.”

He continued: “When I became prime minister, there were measures that had to be taken to avoid conflicts of interest, so I have to relinquish responsibility in these companies. It is a mistake that I admit I committed. I was focusing on getting the country out of the threat of coronavirus and its repercussions. I am not above accountability.”

He insisted that: “This gap has been exploited to change public opinion, and to put me in a position of accusation.”

The conflict between the Ennahda party and Fakhfakh began to escalate when the party decided to start negotiations to form a new government, after considering that the resulting “suspicion of a conflict of interest” had damaged the image of the coalition that had been in power since 27 February, 2020.

Following the dismissal of Ennahda ministers, Fakhfakh’s government has become limited to the Democratic Movement (social-democratic), the Popular Movement (Nasserism), Tahya Tounes (liberal) and the National Reform Bloc (independent and liberal parties).

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