Tunisia’s Islamist party chief offers referendum to end political crisis

August 6, 2013

(Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, speaks during an intervew with  Reuters journalists in Tunis August 5, 2013. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi )

Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party is willing to go to referendum over whether to preserve transitional governance institutions, the party chief has said, but he stood firm against secular opposition efforts to oust the government.

Rachid Ghannouchi said his Ennahda party was open to dialogue to modify Tunisia’s political transition.

But he refused to consider removing the prime minister or dissolve a temporary Constituent Assembly, now weeks away from finishing a draft constitution and electoral law.

“If they are insistent on terminating the transitional process, we say to them, come, let’s have a popular referendum,” he told Reuters in an interview on Monday. “They raised their demands so high and now they’re stuck in a tree.”

Tunisia is facing its worst political crisis since protesters toppled autocratic ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, an uprising that sparked a wave of “Arab Spring” revolts across the region.

Read the full story by Tarek Amara and Erika Solomon here.

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