Tunisia’s moderate Islamist party Ennahda has begun talks to form a coalition government with centre-left parties ahead of announcement of official results in the country’s landmark election.
Preliminary results from the Sunday’s legislative election have put the party formerly banned under the ousted regime in a commanding lead, but still unclear whether it would achieve an outright majority.
By Tuesday Ennahda had won 37 of the total 217 assembly seats against 13 seats of its closest contender, the secularist congress for the republic (CPR). The assembly will be tasked with writing a new constitution among other major reforms that motivated the popular uprising last December that deposed President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali from power, sparking off the Arab spring.
The party said on Tuesday that it wanted to share power but would not seek to push through radical measures. Party leader Rachid Ghannouchi has vowed not to set up an Islamist state but respect multi-party democracy.
Hamadi Jebali Ennahda’s Secretary General and possible Prime Minister has assured secularists and investors that no prospects of religion would be instilled in the country’s tourism and banking sector.
Tunisia, which largely depends on foreign tourism, has a long secular tradition history, viewed as the most secular nation in the Arab world.
The CPR, biggest secular party in the country has defended its union with Ennahda saying it’s a moderate part of Islam. CPR leader Moncef Marzouki said “One must not take them for the Taliban of Tunisia.”
“No, no, no it is not the devil and we do not make pacts with the devil,” he said.
Ghnnouchi has assured Tunisians against unwarranted fears over imposing strict Islamic ethical codes in the country, but instead focus on a quite moderate platform of economic and internal security reforms modeled on Turkey’s Islamic model which remains secular.
Ben Ali was forced to resign and flee to Saudi Arabia following weeks of demonstrations in protest against poverty, oppression and extensive corruption that accustomed his 23 years of rule.
In collaboration with News from Africa.