Hamadi Jebali is Tunisia’s former prime minister. He resigned on February 19 when his own party, Ennahdha, refused his initiative to create a nonpartisan, technocratic government for the purpose of resolving the heightened political tensions after opposition leader Chokri Belaid’s assassination.
Jebali, born in the coastal city Sousse, is an engineer specializing in solar energy. He is the secretary-general of Ennahda, Tunisia’s most prominent Islamist party. Since the January 14th revolution, and especially during the campaign for the Constituent Assembly elections, he has appeared in Ennahda’s press conferences several times, to illustrate the party’s positions and explain its plans.
Jebali entered politics in the early 1980s, when Ennahda’s high-profile leaders were systematically chased and arrested by former President Habib Bourguiba’s regime. Shura Council (a former wing within the party) chose him to undertake the responsibility of steering and managing the party’s affairs in collaboration with Ali Ariadh. He was also a member of Ennahda’s executive council.
In the 1990s, he served as the editor-in-chief of Ennahda’s official weekly newspaper Al-Fajr, before Ben Ali’s regime prohibited its publishing and condemned him to 15 years imprisonment, of which he served 11 years in solitary confinement.
A video showing Hamadi Jebali, then in Washington, describing Israel as a democratic state, circulated on Facebook in March 2011 and caused huge uproar between pro-and anti-Ennahda partisans.
In an interview aired on October 25th, 2011 on Al Jazeera, Jebali stated, ”Bourguiba and Ben Ali have used an elite that didn’t care for the common Tunisian. Tunisia’s elites need to understand that they have to include the common people in the governing process. We will make a break from the past strategies that centered on the coastal areas. I am from the coast, but now it’s time for the marginalized areas to collect the fruits of the revolution… We have started negotiating with CPR, Ettakatol, and El Aridha. We believe that this country cannot be ruled by just one political party, even when the latter gets the majority of the votes.”
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