The outcome of the first round of meetings at the Constitutional Assembly has resulted in an outbreak of internal conflicts within two of the three parties in Tunisia’s political ”Troika” (Ettakatol, Congress for the Republic, and Ennahda) - Congress for the Republic (CPR) and Ettakatol. These disputes threaten the stability of the coalition government at a time when reforms must be implemented to address a bleeding Tunisian economy; more than 800 thousand Tunisians are out of work.
Members of Ettakatol say the party is deviating from its original goals and principles. The dissatisfaction comes after the adoption of a law guaranteeing the separation of the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of the government during the transitional period.
According to Al Maghreb newspaper, the staff of the Ariana office of Ettakatol submitted their collective resignations. These resignations indicate a disconnect between the leadership of the party and the rest of the members, resulting from their exclusion from the inner circles of decision makings.
Lobna Jeribi, a representative of Ettakatol in the Constituent Assembly, describes this as an unnecessary fuss about common internal problems found within all democratic parties. She claims that the media and other parties are exaggerating the extent of the divide and that only two members representing the Ariana district resigned.
“Internal divisions were temporary and they do not have any impact on relations within the coalition,” Jeribi said.
The conflict within CPR has received attention live on television. Abdelraouf Ayedi and Taher Hmila, prominent leaders of the party and members of the Constituent Assembly, levied accusations at one another during a live broadcast. They both aspire to be the successors of Marzouki in the party, each claiming they should hold the secretary general position.
Party members are split between competing loyalties to the two figures. The composition of the cabinet for the interim government is another area of deep contention within CPR. Mohamed Abbou, a prominent figure of the party, said, ”The conflicts are only internal. They will be solved by next week by reaching a consensus among all members of CPR.” Abbou believes that disagreements within the CPR will not have an impact on the “Troika”.
“Positions in the new interim government are already designated. Relations within the coalition will not be affected,” he asserted.
These scuffles represent the first real test of endurance for the newly born political parties. So far, only Ennahdha seems to have healthy framework for decision-making, which has been attractive to politically independent individuals.
On December 17th, Abdelfatah Mourou publicly addressed Rached Ghannouchi as the President of his movement. PM Hamadi Jebali delayed, then canceled a meeting with President Marzouki, and the final approval of the coalition ministers is set for Thursday. In the meantime, Tunisians continue to hold onto the six month political and social truce Marzouki has called for, in spite of the arrival of a particularly harsh winter.