Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, the winner of the first free elections of the country, said the party was taking lessons from Turkey.
“Turkey is a model country for us in terms of democracy. There are very good relations between Turkey and Tunisia, and I hope there will be a proper environment in the future where we could foster those relations,” Ghannouchi said in an interview.
Ghannouchi said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had given him a phone call to celebrate the Ennahda party’s election success. He also mentioned his sorrow for those who died in the earthquake in southeastern Turkey. Ghannouchi was among the crowd who welcomed Erdoğan at the airport when the Turkish prime minister visited Tunis during his Arab Spring tour in September. The Ennahda party vowed Oct. 26 to form a new government within a month as preliminary results gave it a commanding lead, but not a majority, in the Arab Spring’s first election. As coalition negotiations got under way in earnest, the biggest secular party defended its negotiations with Ennahda, saying the Islamist party was neither the devil nor the Taliban. “No, no, no. It is not the devil and we do not make pacts with the devil,” Congress for the Republic (CPR) leader Moncef Marzouki told reporters in Tunis. “One must not take them for the Taliban of Tunisia. It is a moderate party of Islam.” Ghannouchi said a preliminary vote tally that put it in the clear lead with 53 seats of the polling districts counted made the party the “natural” choice to lead the new executive government.
Government to be put together within a month
The CPR was the second-placed party with 18 seats so far on a new 217-member assembly that will rewrite the constitution, appoint a caretaker government and prepare for fresh elections. As the Tunisian ISIE election body said it expected to announce the final results yesterday, the country appeared headed for complicated coalition negotiations, with all of Ennahda’s possible partners on the leftist, liberal side of the political spectrum.
But Ghannouchi said a government would be put together as soon as possible, “within no more than a month.” And an executive party member said Ennahda has put forward its number two, Hamadi Jebali, as the next head of government.
The new assembly will decide on the country’s system of government and how to guarantee basic liberties, including women’s rights, which many in Tunisia fear Ennahda would seek to diminish despite its assurances to the contrary. Leftist parties may yet seek to form a majority bloc against Ennahda. Ennahda has sought to reassure investors of stability and said it was open to a coalition with any party “without exception.”
Compiled from AA and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.