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    CPR Hints at Coalition with Ennahda, Calls for Long Duration for Constituent Assembly

    By Hend Hassassi | Oct 26 2011 Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Share on pinterest Print

    Tags: Coalitions , Congrès pour la République , Moncef Marzouki , tnelec , tunelec

    Moncef Marzouki

    With 22 of 159 seats so far officially announced by ISIE (the Tunisian electoral commission), the centrist Congress for the Republic party (CPR in its French acronym) has reason to be pleased with the results of Sunday’s election. Party leaders fielded questions from reporters in downtown Tunis today.

    Foremost on everyone’s minds was the party’s attitude towards an alliance with Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that has so far taken the largest plurality of seats. Party president Moncef Marzouki wasted no time in addressing the issue.

    “We are willing to negotiate with the Islamist party and we do not want to engage in an ideology fight with them,” said Marzouki.

    Abderraouf Ayadi, a member of the party’s political bureau, agreed with Marzouki’s position, saying, “We do not believe that we have to be Ennahda’s enemies to be accepted in the political scene.”

    While party officials claimed to remain open to offers from all factions, they seemed colder with respect to the idea of a center-left coalition, something that had been speculated before the elections. Party Treasurer Samir Ben Amor told reporters: “We don’t plan on forming a modernist coalition within the constituent assembly.” The word ‘modernist’ is often understood to mean leftist and secular in Tunisian political discourse.

    There would seem to be support on the other end of the proposed deal with Ennahda. Soumaya Ghannoushi, Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi’s daughter, told Tunisia Live reporters yesterday, “We will certainly be working close with the Congress for the Republic.” While Ms. Ghannoushi has no official role within the party, she is somewhat of a privileged observer.

    A coalition between Ennahda and the CPR seems imminent. However, Monzouki stressed that any such coalition would only last so long as he saw no threat to the civil liberties of Tunisian citizens posed by Ennahda’s religious politics.

    “Human rights and women’s rights are a line not to be crossed,” said Marzouki, adding, “We would join an opposition government if those points became endangered.”

    The party also stated that they would continue to advocate for a semi-parliamentary system of government, as opposed to the parliamentary system proposed by Ennahda.

    The conference was an opportunity for the CPR to reiterate its position on the duration and scope of the Constituent Assembly’s legislative powers. Before the election, the CPR was one of the only major parties not to sign an agreement limiting the Assembly to one year, and has all along advocated for a maximum of authority for the assembly.

    On the time issue, Marzouki stated, “We don’t think that a year is going to be enough. The drafting of the Constitution needs to be done slowly; we do not wish to rush the drafting process.”

    Party leaders also pronounced themselves for a strong government to be appointed by the assembly, arguing against a mere “transitional” body.

    “We are against a transitional government because it will delay all these urgent issues,” said Ben Amor.  This echoes what Ben Amor said in previous statements, when he judged that a provisional government could not make real reforms.

    By rejecting the title of ‘transitional,’  the party seemed to be expressing a desire that the government to be designated be granted plenary powers, a contrast to the proposal of Ettakatol, a center-left party who have so far placed third in number of seats assigned. Ettakatol has advocated a more utilitarian, placeholder government whose main task would be to maintain stability until the constitution is drafted.

    The surprising success of the CPR has led many observers to scrutinize its political ideology with a finer lens. The party seems to have carved out a place in the center of the political spectrum by being neither for nor against Ennahda’s brand of religious nationalism.

    Speaking before the election, Nabeul 2 candidate Arbi Jlassi said, “We are a center party that understands the Tunisians’ Muslim and Arabic identity and we also adopt a modern approach.”

    During the press conference, Ben Amor took a similar straddling-the-line approach, stating, “Religion is a common denominator that unites all Tunisians, but we will not use it politically.”

    In an interview before the election, however, Ben Amor had spoken in no uncertain terms that he was in favor of filtering the internet against all content “that could constitute an attack on good morals.” If such policies were shared by other members of the party, this would place them well to the right of official pronouncements from Ennadha.

    Reporting by Hend Hassasi.

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      john237 /

      May I advice Israel Defense Force that rather than giving threats, keeping illegal and brutal occupation on Arab land and remaining in blind faith that America will do every thing for her, IDF should read writing on the wall (i) Arab neighbors are awakening; (ii) America and the Europe is losing their hold on Arab Kings and dictators (ii) Political, economical and technical power of America and Europe is going down rapidly; it would be in the best interest of Israel to accept the reality on the ground and extend her hands for real friendship with their Arab neighbors rather than continue one sided confrontation before it is too late. To begin with be ready to hand over the looted land, natural resources, humanity and civil rights back to the natives and be a civilized and peaceful real leader in that part of the world.

    1. katoussa /

      A year should be sufficient time for the creation of a newx constitution. Unless of course there is to be a lot of political infighting over every clause! Look at the constitutions of other countries with similar ideas and adapt/change clauses to fit our specific situation. There are sufficient legal experts available for this to be a relatively easy task. I would suggest that we look at the Republic of Ireland for a constitution which could be a good starting point for debate. Unless and until we have a satisfactory constitution, and elections after adoption of this new constitution, no government has a legitimate mandate for making extensive changes. Their job is to govern the country using existing legislation where possible, and leaving radical reforms until after the next elections. The job of the Consituant Assembly is the creation of the new constitution and to provide a caretaker government. Apart from the legality of the situation, does the Assembly have enough members with sufficient experience in government to permit them to go ahead with massive reforms?

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    • Carthage Theater Days statue display in downtown Tunis.

      Photo credit: Tristan Dreisbach, Tunisia Live
    • Carthage Theater Days statue display in downtown Tunis.

      Photo credit: Tristan Dreisbach, Tunisia Live
    • Carthage Theater Days statue display in downtown Tunis.

      Photo credit: Tristan Dreisbach, Tunisia Live
    • Carthage Theater Days statue display in downtown Tunis.

      Photo credit: Tristan Dreisbach, Tunisia Live
    • Carthage Theater Days statue display in downtown Tunis.

      Photo credit: Tristan Dreisbach, Tunisia Live
    • Carthage Theater Days statue display in downtown Tunis.

      Photo credit: Tristan Dreisbach, Tunisia Live
    • Carthage Theater Days statue display in downtown Tunis.

      Photo credit: Tristan Dreisbach, Tunisia Live

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