Tunisia’s Ennahda will give up government but not power, says party leader

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Rached Ghannouchi, chairman of Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party said on Sunday that his party may be willing to give up the government but not power, in a televised interview with state channel al-Wataniya 1.

The party leader said that Ennahda will remain in power through the constituent assembly and the upcoming government.

The Tunisian opposition demands that the country’s Ennahda-led government commit to resign from power within three weeks of the start of talks, in order to make way for an interim cabinet.

Talks are scheduled over the next three weeks in the country to decide on a caretaker government and set a date for elections.

Ghannouchi warned against the delays in the political roadmap, adding that his government will resign in three weeks and the constituent assembly will finish its tasks in four weeks.

“[Tunisia’s] situation can no longer bear the prolonging of finishing the constitution. The cabinet and the deputies must fulfill their promises,” Ghannouchi was quoted as saying to Al Wataniya 1 channel.

The Islamist-party leader has also defended radical Muslim Salafists in his interview.

“Salafists are Tunisia’s sons just like communists and liberals are. We must not [launch] a war against this group and we must not eliminate it from society,” he said, adding that the rejected resorting to violence as a means to impose one’s opinions.

Tunisia’s democratic transition has effectively been choked by disputes between the Islamist-led coalition and the opposition, nearly three years after President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown.

Ghannouchi said in his interview that democracy is not about eliminating opponents but about resolving disputes in a civil and peaceful manner.

“The current phase is not one of struggle or mobilization. The ship must carry all Tunisians, whether Islamists or not, to safety.”

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