Ghannouchi on the defensive over siding with Libya’s Sarraj

Tunisian parliament speaker stresses that his communication with Libyan PM did not exceed Tunisian diplomacy rules.

LONDON - Tunisia's Parliament Speaker Rachid Ghannouchi defended on Tuesday siding with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National accord, saying that passive neutrality on the war-torn country was ‘meaningless’.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Ghannouchi said that “if there is a fire at your neighbour, you cannot be neutral; extinguishing the fire is a duty and necessity, so passive neutrality makes no sense."

Ghannouchi, who is the leader of the Islamist Ennahdha party, has faced a huge criticism in Tunisia for congratulating last month Sarraj’s Turkish-backed forces and militias on capturing al-Watiya military airbase from military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army.

Seven opposition parties slammed Ghannouchi for meddling in international conflicts and foreign affairs.

They called on Tunisian President Kais Saied to intervene and respond to the accusations that Tunisia was providing logistical support to Turkey in its military intervention in Libya.

In a speech to mark Eid al-Fitr, Saied said that Tunisia “has only one president both nationally and internationally.”

Ghannouchi stressed that his communication with Sarraj did not exceed the Tunisian diplomacy rules.

The parliamentary bloc of the Free Destourian Party urged Sunday the blocs concerned to form a "civic" parliamentary majority in order to withdraw confidence in parliament speaker.

Ghannouchi told al-Jazeera news channel that calls to withdraw confidence and dissolve parliament were aimed at creating instability in the country, confusing state institutions and disrupting the interests of citizens.

“These are parties seeking to apply local and regional agendas to disrupt the democratic transition in Tunisia and to derail a unique experience,” Ghannouchi told al-Jazeera.