Last Updated: Sat Oct 29, 2011 08:20 am (KSA) 05:20 am (GMT)

Tunisia Islamist leader calls for calm after violence; favors convertible currency

Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Islamist Ennahda party, has reached out to all political forces and said that everyone must work together in the rewriting of the constitution. (Reuters)
Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Islamist Ennahda party, has reached out to all political forces and said that everyone must work together in the rewriting of the constitution. (Reuters)

The Islamist Ennahda party, flush from victory in Tunisia’s first free elections, sounded a unifying note Friday and called for calm after violence in the town where the country's revolution began.

Rachid Ghannouchi, the moderate Islamist leader whose party will dominate Tunisia’s new coalition government, said he wanted to make the dinar currency convertible.

“We are in favor of the convertibility of the Tunisian dinar,” Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda party, told Reuters. Asked about a timetable for this, he said: “Our experts are going to give clarifications on that.

“We have a liberal economic program which encourages investment and initial public offerings. We are committed to providing a climate which is far from corruption and which allows the interests of investors to be protected,” he said.

Asked about the formation of a new government, he said: “The change will not be total. The direction will be towards making certain changes. These decisions will be taken after discussions with our partners.

“But what we think is that we have trust in several ministers who are honest and who have carried out their duties well in the strategic sectors.

“We do not see any point in moving them but all this depends on our discussions with our partners,” Ghannouchi said.

Earlier, Ghannouchi reached out to all political forces following the election in an assembly that will rewrite the constitution and appoint a president and a caretaker government.

“Democracy is for everyone,” he told journalists. “We ask that all our brothers, whatever their political outlook, participate in the writing of the constitution and the installation of a democratic regime.”

“The revolution didn’t take place to destroy a state, but to destroy a regime,” he said, according to AFP.

Ghannouchi, speaking at party headquarters, called for calm as the interior ministry announced that a curfew would be imposed from 7:00 pm (1800 GMT) Friday to 5:00 am Saturday in the central Tunisian town.

Several public buildings were vandalized overnight but calm had returned by the early morning hours, an AFP correspondent said.

Late-night results showed Ennahda, banned under dictator Zine ElAbidine Ben Ali, took 90 of the 217 assembly seats, or 41 percent.

Some have voiced concern that the Islamist party would seek to curb women’s rights in an Arab country known for a progressive approach on gender equality.

Ghannouchi, however, reaffirmed his party’s “commitment to the women of Tunisia, to strengthen their role in political decision-making, in order to avoid any going back on their social gains.”

Analysts have said that Ennahda, even in a majority alliance, would be unable to “dictate” any program to the assembly, being obliged to appease coalition partners, a moderate-minded society, and the international community on whose investment and tourism the country relies heavily.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Friday congratulated Ennahda for its victory while commending all parties who contested in the vote.

Ghannouchi said Wednesday that his party intended to form a new coalition government within a month.

The electoral system was designed to include as many parties as possible in drafting the new constitution, expected to take a year, ahead of fresh national polls.

Comments »

Post Your Comment »