Struggle over leadership deepens divisions in Tunisia president’s party

Tunisia's prime minister accused Hafedh Caid Essebsi, above, in exporting the party's problems to the state. (AFP/File)
Updated 14 April 2019

Struggle over leadership deepens divisions in Tunisia president’s party

  • The increased divisions in the party will make it harder to face the rivaling party in elections
  • The divisions started in 2015 when Essebsi’s son was criticized for seeking to gain control over the party

TUNIS: Tunisia’s ruling party Nidaa Tounes on Saturday elected two leaders, one of them the president’s son, in two parallel congresses, deepening the division that has hit the party in recent years.
The new crisis that hit Nidaa Tounes comes months ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections expected in October and November, which could complicate its competition against the rival Ennahda moderate Islamist party. Although the slogan of the first electoral congresses of Nidaa Tounes which started last week was “unity,” it ended by dividing into two congresses.
The first congress elected the lawmaker Sofian Toubel as head of the party’s central committee. The second elected Hafedh Caid Essebsi, the son of the president Beji Caid Essebsi.
The divisions have shaken the party since 2015, as Essebsi’s son has been criticized for seeking to control the party, prompting many of its leaders to resign.
The prime minister Youssef Chahed also entered into a row with Hafedh Caid Essebsi and accused him of exporting the party’s problems to the state. “The congresses of Monastir (in which Essesbi’s son was elected) is illegal and an attempt to deflect legitimacy,” said party official Ons Hattab.
Essesbi’s son denied the accusations and said he was surprised by the behavior of some leaders who went to a parallel conference, adding that this could affect the party.
The parliamentary race is expected to be fought closely by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, the more secular Tahya Tounes party of Prime Minister Chahed, and the Nidaa Tounes.
The parties rule the North African country together but their coalition has been hit by infighting that has hampered decision-making and slowed economic reforms demanded by foreign donors.
No prominent figure has so far declared their candidacy for the presidency this year.
Tunisia has won widespread praise for its democratic transition since 2011, but nine Cabinets have failed to resolve economic problems that include high inflation and unemployment.

Arab Parliament calls on UN and Arab League to classify Houthis as a terrorist group

Updated 12 sec ago

Arab Parliament calls on UN and Arab League to classify Houthis as a terrorist group

  • The Parliament will vote on the draft resolution before submitting it to the UN and Arab League
  • The spokesperson called the Houthi attacks a war crime

DUBAI: The Arab Parliament revealed on Wednesday they are in the process of submitting a draft resolution, calling on the United Nations and Arab League to take a firm and immediate stance to classify the Iranian-backed Houthi militia as a terrorist group, Saudi state-news agency SPA reported.

The Parliament will vote on the draft resolution before presenting it to the secretary general of the UN and the Arab League’s secretary general, Meshaal bin Fahm Al-Sulami, spokesperson of the Arab Parliament, said.

The Parliament will not condone any group targeting civilian areas, such as Houthi attacks in neighboring countries like Saudi, he said.

These attacks are a war crime, Al-Sulami said.

He also mentioned that Houthi militias are threatening Yemeni MPs for attending Parliament sessions.

The announcement came during a press conference, as the latest session of the Parliament, headed by Al-Sulamai and in the presence of the speaker of the Yemeni Parliament, Sultan Al-Burkani, kicked off.

The Parliament’s session will focus on the current crises, challenges and developments in Arab countries, and will discuss the efforts of the Parliament to support joint Arab action against the dangers and threats facing the Arab national security.