By Houda Trabelsi
A year after Tunisia’s historic vote, some political forces say the country needs a national dialogue to speed up the transitional process.
The goal is to reach a consensus before the October 23rd deadline, when the term of the interim government expires, according to Ettakatol.
Mustapha Ben Jaafar’s party on September 27th pleaded for “an immediate, serious and careful assessment of the performance of the government” in order to form a government of national interest, which would accommodate all other parties. The new government would facilitate a consensus on writing the constitution and setting the date for the upcoming elections.
The government needs to “review the way it deals with radical religious currents that practice violence and coercion in dealing with others”, Ettakatol said.
The party warned of “the risk of slipping into the schemes of those who advocate conflicts of civilisations and religions, regardless of their affiliations and beliefs”.
“We welcome the expansion of the government, but we refuse to call it a national salvation government,” said Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali.
Meanwhile, the “Call of Tunisia” (Nidaa Tounes) Party, headed by former Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, declared on September 20th that they would not participate in any future government with Ennahda.
Caid Essebsi appealed for the current government to keep the promises it had made to ensure a democratic transition and hold the elections on schedule.
Samir Betayeb of the Tunisian Path Party said, “We are not asking for participation in the government as much as for a dialogue between all the political parties in order to develop a roadmap on main issues such as the independence of the electoral commission, the media, security, justice and other bodies.”
“Sovereign ministries must be spared partisan domination, especially after recent events in the country that came on the heels of an anti-Islam movie and the attacks on the US embassy in Tunis,” he added.
In his turn, the Republican Party (Al Joumhouri) member Issam Chebbi told Magharebia: “We demand the establishment of a national dialogue to reach a consensus before October 23rd. Thus we will spare the country the implications of a crisis we are probably unable to afford.”
“We believe that any cabinet reshuffle or attempt to expand the coalition without a national dialogue and the development of a roadmap would be a continuation of partisan quotas and therefore of one-party dominance,” he added.
“Ennahda welcomes this proposal and has a desire to establish a national dialogue, but they must speed up the announcement of a formal response because time is important at this stage,” Chebbi said.
Meanwhile, Ennahda member Ameur Larayedh commented that his party welcomed “the proposal of a national dialogue”.
“We have a desire to expand the coalition and to include other parties and blocs,” he told Magharebia.
Still, he said that the incumbent government enjoys legitimacy “given by the people”. “The Constituent Assembly has a task; its role will end by the end of this task according to Chapter 21 of the ‘small constitution’,” he added.
Tunisia’s powerful General Labour Union (UGTT) is expected to make an announcement regarding the National Dialogue Council. The council is “designed to purify the political atmosphere and to overcome existing disputes and achieve the democratic transition”, according to UGTT Secretary-General Hassan Abbasi.
“The union is not concerned by the election but rather by the date of its organisation, its fairness and its transparency,” Abbasai said.