Erdogan and Ghannouchi: Why did their meeting spark anger in Tunisia?

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Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan meets with the President of the Tunisian Parliament and the leader of the Ennahda movement, Rashid Ghannouchi

Image source
Anadolu Agency

The visit of the Tunisian Parliament Speaker, Rashid Ghannouchi, to Turkey has sparked a political debate in the country, especially since it came a day after the government of Habib El Gamali failed to obtain the confidence of the deputies.

Turkish media indicated that a closed session brought together Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Ghannouchi in Istanbul.

The press office of Al-Nahda movement published a statement explaining that “Ghannouchi’s visit came on the basis of a previous date and in his capacity as head of the movement and not as Speaker of Parliament.”

Ghannouchi also explained in a Facebook post that “Erdogan discussed the developments in the region and the challenges they face.” He noted that he used the meeting to congratulate Erdogan on a Turkish-made car.

Moves to withdraw confidence

Despite the party’s clarification, this did not prevent Ghannouchi’s critics from asking questions about the goals and timing of the visit.

Mohsen Marzouk, general secretary of the “Tunis Project”, considered Ghannouchi’s meeting with Erdogan after the government’s failure to gain the confidence of parliament as evidence that “the decisions of the Ennahda movement are linked to Turkey’s directives.”

As for the head of the Free Constitutional Party, Abeer Moussa, she called for a petition to withdraw confidence from Ghannouchi, considering that his visit violated diplomatic norms.

It appears that Moussas call began to receive a reaction from some political activists who called for the remediation of the “fatal mistake” that had been made to elect Ghannouchi as Speaker of Parliament, as they described them.

It seems that Moussas invitation began to receive an interaction from some pioneers of communication websites who called for the remediation of the “fatal mistake” that was made by electing Ghannouchi as Speaker of Parliament, as they described them.

On Facebook, Tunisians described the visit as provocative and ridiculed the reasons presented by Ghannouchi when clarifying the details of the visit.

Meanwhile, politicians and other activists have distanced themselves from this controversy, and warned against the return of polarization and ideological rhetoric that characterized political life in 2014.

What are the implications of meeting Ghannouchi and Erdogan? What is the impact of the Camel government’s failure on the political scene in general and on the Renaissance movement in particular?

The “Clash of Poles”

This is not the first time that Ghannouchi has been criticized for his meetings with Erdogan or Turkish officials.

He had previously faced similar criticism after receiving the Turkish ambassador to his office in Parliament.

Analysts do not rule out the exacerbation of ideological conflicts in Parliament to the point of demanding the withdrawal of the Presidency of Parliament from it.

On the other hand, Tunisian observers talk about a dispute within Ennahda itself regarding the policies of Ghannouchi and the possibility of extending his term as president of the movement.

The internal law of the Renaissance movement stipulates that its president takes office for only two terms. Rashid Ghannouchi has been the party’s leader since 1991, and his term ends in 2020.

The media and political analyst Salahuddin Al-Jurashi believes that the recent developments will deepen the differences within the Ennahda movement.

He explains in his speech to us: “There is an important division within the Nahda movement, which requires Ghannouchi to separate his leadership of the movement from his presidency of Parliament and another aspect that requires him to branch to manage the affairs of Parliament.”

Al-Jurashi says that the upcoming annual renaissance conference will solve this issue and rearrange the situation within the party.

Al-Jurashi believes that the post-Ghannouchi phase has begun inside the renaissance, but it excludes the emergence of new leaders that compensate for the basic tires that were and still occupy leadership positions.

Did Al-Nahda lose the lead?

After El-Gamly failed to gain the confidence of Parliament, the Tunisian street is under a state of anticipation and anxiety, in light of the deteriorating economic situation.

The Tunisian parliament voted against giving confidence to the El Gamali government, in a plenary session that continued late into the evening of January 10.

Rashid Ghannouchi played down the repercussions of the parliament’s rejection of the government, whose president proposed his party.

He said in a media statement that this is “one of the rare practices of democracy in the Arab world,” adding that “the country is still working according to the constitution and has not entered into a vacuum.”

Others, however, see the overthrow of the government of al-Gamli as a “powerful blow to the renaissance, whose popularity has declined compared to the nine years after the 2011 revolution.”

What is the impact of the parliament’s rejection of Al-Jamali’s government on the political scene in general and on the Renaissance movement in particular?

There is no doubt that the fall of the government of Al-Jamali shuffled cards and political accounts.

And it was not hours after the vote until Nabil Karoui, head of the Tunis Heart Party (which won second place in the legislative elections), was quick to announce a parliamentary front that includes 93 deputies.

The villager said that the announcement of this initiative came in coordination between his party and other blocs such as the Viva Tunisia party led by the current caretaker Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, with the aim of uniting the divided democratic family and presenting a unified initiative to Tunisian President Qais Said.

Although the Karoui initiative was not clear, observers considered it to mark the return of the Nida party, which was led by the late Tunisian President Beji Kaid Essebsi.

According to many, this initiative will not be in the interest of the Renaissance movement.

On the other hand, political analyst Saleh al-Din Jurashi says: “Ennahdas failure to pass the Camel government will reduce its political presence, but it will not eliminate it because its presence creates a kind of balance in the political scene in Tunisia.”

The ball now remains in the stadium of Tunisian President Qais Saeed, who has the initiative to assign a figure to form a new government.

Under the constitution, the president will, within 10 days, hold consultations with parties and parliamentary blocs to assign a figure to form a government within a maximum period of one month.

If the new government does not gain the confidence of Parliament again, the President will call for legislative elections after the dissolution of Parliament.

Observers are likely to approve the new government for parliament to avoid the dissolution of parliament.



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