Picture by Sabrina Bouazizi
Picture by Sabrina Bouazizi

For two precarious weeks following the assassination of the opposition leftist leader Chockri Belaid, the political factions have not reached a compromise yet. The question remains whether a government of technocrats or a political government would heal the political paralysis in Tunisia. The reluctance of the more conservative members of Ennahda Party to embrace the Prime Minister Jebali’s initiative of forming a non-partisan cabinet coupled with the ambivalence of the other political actors over the structure of the new government might inject more uncertainty in the Tunisian streets.

Big Parties Differ on the Government of Technocrats

Opposition parties: The Alliance for Tunisia (Nida Tounes, Al Masar and Al Joumhouri) applauded appointing a non-partisan cabinet to fix the problems plaguing the country until elections are held. Nejib Chebbi, leader of the secular Republican Party, talked nonetheless of the prospect to form a mixed cabinet of party politicians and non-partisan technocrats.

The initative was rejected nonetheless by the leader of Tunisia’s Communist Workers party Hamma Hammami who called instead for a national salvation congress to tackle the urgent issues facing the country; to identify the perpetrator of the assassination, curb the politicization of the mosque, to stem the tide of takfir, or accusations of apostasy among other things.

Under some fairly well defined conditions including the will of the next government to combat the traffic of arms, to dissolve all militias and armed group and to guide the country along the right path, the Democratic Patriotic party (Watad) would adhere to Jebali‘s government proposal.

The stance of the troika government towards the cabinet reshuffle remains almost unchanged. The party leader Rachid Ghannouchi agrees on the need to remake the government but refuses to hand power to a government of technocrats. An attitude shared by the most radical elements within the Islamist party. In a statement issued by its Shura Council on February 17, 2013, the Ennahda reaffirms commitment to an inclusive political government except for the Party of Nida Tounes.

While the secular Ettakatol Party, 100 percent welcomed, without conditions Jebali‘s project for an apolitical government, the other partner in the current coalition CPR (Congress For The Republic) rejected Jebali’s idea allegedly too irrelevant.

The “Council of Elders” to Address the Political Crisis

Given the lack of political consensus over the new cabinet, the PM Jebali convened with secular political parties, business leaders, civil society members, magistrates, Ennahda moderates and General Rachid Ammar under the umbrella of a “Council of Elders”. The advisory council which aims to find common ground over the structure of the new government has failed considerably. At the end of negotiations, the entity proposed by Jebali was applauded by one faction and rejected by the other. The party of Chokri Belaid boycotted the meeting of the council of elders to denounce “the indecent invitation via email”. On the other hand the presence of General Rachid Ammar in the council generated a heated debate and rumors of an imminent military coup underscored the shaky faith in the future of the country. According to Habib Ellouze, Ennahda deputy in the constituent assembly, the council is useless since it may project a gloomy image of the political situation in Tunisia. The exclusion of women‘s participation in the Council was criticized by feminists, human rights activists and sparked thousands of comments on Twitter and Facebook. One of the comments read “I feel outraged that two years after the revolution Tunisian women are considered inferior and unqualified to take part in the Council of Elders.

Mass resignation threaten the CPR Party survival

The first was Abderraouf Ayadi (former secretary General of the CPR and Chairman of Wafa (Fidelity) Movement, who resigned in May 2012 from Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki’s Party Congress for the Republic (CPR) along with 11 other members. Elected representative of the Congress for the Republic (CPR) party at the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) Lazhar Chamli confirmed on Monday to TAP news agency that he had resigned from the party. On the other hand we learned about the resignation of Mr. and Mrs. Abbou from the party through Facebook Sunday evening. On the same social site, the journalist and former secretary general of the CPR party posted “le CPR est finit”, (the CPR party is over.)

Pro-Government Rally

The Ennahda party called its supporters to take to the streets to defend the legitimacy of the government. An act reminiscent of the Muslim Brotherhood’s show of strength in support of Mursi ‘s November move to expand his powers. Thousands of Ennahda supporters gathered in Habib Bourguiba avenue with chants such as ‘the people want Ennahda again’ and “the people want to protect the legitimacy“. The party’s leader Rached Ghannouchi addressed the crowd, saying “Ennahda is the backbone of Tunisia”.

Artists Honor Chokri Belaid

The mourners over Belaid‘s death gathered on Sunday in El Menzah to pay homage to the martyr‘s soul. An act of violence took place later when the memorial installed in memory of Belaid was destroyed a few hours later. So far there is no progress in the murder investigation. Crucial to embarking on democratic transition and national reconciliation is holding perpetrators accountable for their crimes and ultimately, making justice prevail.

Tunisia PM says plan for new government has failed

Attempts to form a new cabinet of technocrats have collapsed, announced the Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali late on Monday. “I say in all clarity that the initiative I presented – that is to say, a government composed of members not belonging to any political parties – failed to reach a consensus,” said Jebali. With the Tunisian politicians unwilling to make meaningful compromises political deadlock in Tunisia does not look set to end soon.