Tunisia’s main Islamist party Ennahda to stay out of presidential election

September 9, 2014
(Supporters of the Islamist Ennahda movement wave national and party flags as they mark the 33rd anniversary of the founding of the party in Tunis June 7, 2014. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi )

(Supporters of the Islamist Ennahda movement wave national and party flags as they mark the 33rd anniversary of the founding of the party in Tunis June 7, 2014. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi )

Tunisia’s main Islamist party, Ennahda, said on Sunday it would not contest a presidential election in November, in the interest of ensuring an inclusive government for all Tunisians.

Ennahda is one of the two front-runners to win next month’s parliamentary election and provide the next prime minister, but opposition groups say its dominance of the last government almost derailed Tunisia’s transition to democracy following its revolution of 2011.

The president makes senior military and foreign policy appointments as well as nominating the prime minister, and ceding the post to an outside candidate on Nov. 23 sends a signal that Ennahda will avoid making the same mistakes if it wins the parliamentary election.

“We want to send a positive message to the Tunisian people and politicians … We do not want to dominate all contests, especially since Ennahda will feature strongly in the parliamentary election next month,” party spokesman Zied Ladhari told Reuters.

Ennahda won the first free election after the overthrow of autocratic president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, but was accused by the opposition of seeking to entrench itself in power, disregarding the interests of a large secular urban population and being lenient towards radical Islamists.

Read the full story by Tarek Amara here.

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