By Tarek Amara
TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia’s greatest political occasion assembled an immense crowd of supporters within the capital on Saturday in a present of power that would gasoline a dispute between the president and the prime minister.
In one of many greatest demonstrations since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, tens of 1000’s of Ennahda supporters marched by means of central Tunis chanting “The individuals wish to defend establishments!” and “The individuals need nationwide unity!”.
The dispute has performed out in opposition to a grim backdrop of financial anxiousness, disillusionment with democracy and competing reform calls for from international lenders and the UGTT, the highly effective essential labour union, as debt repayments loom.
Ennahda, a average Islamist occasion led by Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi, has backed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi in a standoff with President Kais Saied over a cupboard reshuffle.
Banned earlier than the revolution, it has been a member of most governing coalitions since then and, though its share of the vote has fallen in recent times, it nonetheless holds essentially the most seats in parliament.
“Nationalists, Islamists, democrats and communists,” Ghannouchi informed the group, “we have been gathered collectively in the course of the dictatorship … and we should unite once more.”
The newest election, in 2019, delivered a fragmented parliament whereas propelling Saied, an unbiased, to the presidency.
When the federal government collapsed after solely 5 months in workplace, Saied nominated Mechichi as prime minister.
However they quickly fell out, and Mechichi turned for help to the 2 greatest events – Ennahda and jailed media mogul Nabil Karoui’s Coronary heart of Tunisia.
Final month, Mechichi modified 11 ministers in a reshuffle seen as changing Saied’s allies with these of Ennahda and Coronary heart of Tunisia. The president has refused to swear 4 of them in, nonetheless.
In the meantime, demonstrators protesting final month in opposition to inequality and police abuses targeted most of their anger on Mechichi and Ennahda.
Ennahda billed Saturday’s march as “in help of democracy”, however it was broadly seen as an effort to mobilise standard opposition to Saied – elevating the spectre of competing protest actions.
“This can be a sturdy message that every one the individuals need dialogue and nationwide unity,” Fethi Ayadi, a senior Ennahda official, informed Reuters.
So as to add to the tensions, calls for by international lenders for spending cuts, which may result in unpopular reductions in state programmes, are opposed by the UGTT.
Tunisia’s 2021 price range forecasts borrowing wants of 19.5 billion Tunisian dinars ($7.2 billion), together with about $5 billion in international loans.
However Tunisia’s credit standing has fallen because the coronavirus pandemic started, and market issues about its capacity to boost funds are mirrored in sharp value rises for Tunisian credit score default swaps – insurance coverage in opposition to default on its debt. ($1 = 2.7 Tunisian dinars)