Tunisia’s Opposition to Announce Alternative Government

Photo Credit: Reuters

Tunisia’s secular opposition says it will announce an alternative “salvation government” this week. Mongi Rahoui, a leading member of the opposition, said that ”The consultations are continuing between the parties to the National Salvation Front (NSF), to choose a candidate for new prime minister and a salvation government.” The NSF includes over a dozen opposition parties that came together after the assassination of Mohamed Brahimi. NSF leaders have said that they are uninterested in reconciliation with the Islamist Ennahda party.

Ennahda’s leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, meanwhile, is due to meet with Houcine Abassi, the chief of Tunisia’s most powerful trade union, Tunisian General Trade Union (UGTT), and Mustapha ben Jaafar, speaker of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA). Although UGTT has called for the resignation of the largely Islamist cabinet and for its replacement with a technocratic government, ben Jaafar has proposed that UGTT be the mediator for the talks. Last week Ghannouchi said that he had met with Wided Bouchamaoui, the head of Utica, an employer’s organization. They too have called for a technocratic government.

Bouchamaoui had been reported to be the favorite for the position of prime minister in the opposition’s alternative government, however, she denied it in a statement saying, “I thank all those who considered me able to take a political responsibility. I confirm that I am not interested in any position or political responsibility.”

Despite the talks and attempts at reconciliation, however, calls for the dissolution of the Islamist-led government continue on the street. Five activists with the Tunisian Tamarrod movement have gone on a hunger strike outside the constituent assembly demanding its dissolution. And, according to its Facebook page, Tamarrod says it has collected 1.6 million signatures (about 15% of Tunisia’s population) in support of the dissolution of the NCA and the resignation of the government. Many of those making these demands say that Ennahda has “[created] an atmosphere of fear.” Mériem Bourguiba-Laouiti, granddaughter of former President Habib Bourguibasays, “Women feel threatened by Ennahda because they fear for their rights.”

Ennahda, however, has called for a rally on Tuesday for Tunisian Women’s Day. The opposition, meanwhile, has called for rallies on Tuesday night to defend women’s rights. The rally will be followed by a march outside parliament.