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Tunisia’s Ennahda chief rejects Ben Ali comparison, says Belaid not new Bouazizi

Published: Updated:

The leader of Tunisia’s ruling Islamist Enahda, Rachid al-Ghannouchi, has gone on a series of media interviews trying to defend himself and his political party against accusations of involvement in the assassination of prominent liberal opposition leader Chokri Belaid.

In a recent interview with Algeria’s al-Khabar newspaper, Ghannouchi said assassinations are a normal part of historical revolutions and the ones currently taking place in today’s world.

Ghannouchi emphasized the absurdity that Enahda has been accused of the assassination. “It is not in anyone’s benefit to bomb the ground that they are standing on” he said.

Ghannouchi was referring to the fact that his party had been democratically elected after Tunisia’s revolution in January 2011. He added that his government would not spear head the chaos currently gripping the country because it doesn’t work in their favor.

The moderate Islamic leader clarified that the way he sees it is that there are people who want another revolution. But he said this will not happen because he is not like former dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and that the slain opposition leader Belaid is not Mohamed Bouazizi--the street vendor who set himself on fire and kick started the revolution in Tunisia.

He described these accusations and rumors as both ridiculous and strange.

In separate interviews, Ghannouchi also ruled out any involvement of the Tunisian army in the situation in the country, as protests rage and violence grips the capital.

He considered the army “professional and practical” and would only get involved in the chaos if they were asked to do so by the relevant authorities.

Belaid’s wife and family have accused Enahda of assassinating the leading opposition figure, given he was an outspoken critic of the current government.

The Enahda leader stated in his interviews that he doesn’t agree with those who believe there will be a series of assassinations similar to those which took place in Algeria in 1982. Ghannouchi added there are a lot of differences between Tunisia and Algeria.

Ghannouchi has previously stated that he has politically tried to distance himself from steps taken by his Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, but at the same time Ghannouchi claims he doesn’t see a threat or a disagreement taking place in his unity cabinet.