We have not let go of consensus, insists Ennahda in Tunisia

Tunisia’s Ennahda Movement confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that it has not let go of the political consensus in the country, and pointed out that differences of opinion are key to democracy. In response to President Beji Caid Essebsi’s statements in an interview with Elhiwar Ettounsi TV on Monday evening, the movement praised his role in creating a national consensus that saved Tunisia and made it an exception among Arab Spring states.

Ennahda pointed out that holding different views on a number of issues in the country, including governmental stability, does not mean that it denies its strong relationship with the President of the Republic. It noted that any differences stem from the heart of a democratic life, and it is one of the characteristics demonstrating the enormity of the economic and social challenges facing the country and public opinion.

The movement praised the President’s keenness to reassure Tunisians about holding the presidential and legislative elections at the scheduled time, “in a way that strengthens the democratic transition process and the internal and external confidence in the Tunisian experience.” It stressed its commitment to the path of consensus with the President of the Republic, and appreciation of his national role since the start of the revolution to establish a culture of discussion and dialogue among political parties in the face of singularity, exclusion and domination. Ennahda added that it has interacted positively with the President, as shown at all stages in which Essebsi found only help and support from the movement.

Essebsi: ‘Our relations with Ennahda are over’ 

The official spokesman of Ennahda, however, denied the President’s claim that relations between Nidaa Tounés and the movement were cut a week ago at the request of the latter. “Ennahda did not cut ties with the President of the Republic,” insisted Imed Khemiri. He stressed the movement’s keenness on consensus, and pointed out that there is a real problem in the management of the democratic transition that can only be resolved by dialogue.

“The President of the Republic’s statement is important,” added Khemiri, “and we will remain keen on consensus and dialogue to serve the country’s interest. Ennahda is still holding on to the choice of government stability.”

Former Foreign Minister and the leader of Ennahda Movement, Rafik Abdessalem, said that President Essebsi’s statement is simply not accurate. “The president said that Ennahda chose to cut ties with him,” he wrote on Facebook. “We say to his excellency, this is not true as we praise and respect his personality, position and historical role.” He added that even if there is a disagreement on the issue of changing the government at this sensitive political and economic time in Tunisia, this does not spoil the good relations between Ennahda and the ruling party.