Ghannouchi seeks to dismiss some coalition ministers from cabinet

Tunisia’s parliament speaker and Ennahdha leader calls for ouster of parties, which voted against him in plenary session, from coalition government, plunging country into deep political divide.

LONDON - Tunisia’s parliament speaker and leader of the Islamist Ennahdha party, Rached Ghannouchi called Monday for the ouster of two parties from the coalition government amid increasing calls for him to step down over his interference in the country’s international affairs.

In an interview with Nessma TV channel, Ghannouchi called for the dismissal of the Achaab Movement and Tahya Tounes parties from the coalition government after the two parties voted against Ennahdha in a marathon plenary session held June 3 during which they, along with opposition parties, launched a salvo of criticism of parliament speaker.

Parliament rejected a draft motion tabled by the Free Destourian Party (PDL) on the country’s rejection of any intervention in Libya.

The motion related to “the announcement of parliament’s refusal of any foreign intervention in Libya, and the rejection of the establishment of a logistical base on the national territory, with a view to favouring such intervention.”

It was disapproved with 94 favourable votes, 68 oppositions and 7 abstentions during the plenary session, plunging parliament into a deep divide. It needed an absolute majority of 109 votes to pass.

Opposition parties called for dissolving parliament, which Ghannouchi said was “unconstitutional.”

Two days after this plenary session, Ennahdha refused to sign the document of the "stability and solidarity pact" proposed by Prime Minister Elyès Fakhfakh.

Ghannouchi’s party demanded that the document be extended to a parliamentary majority.

Ghannouchi said that it was absurd to have signed a pledge of government solidarity with parties that voted against him in parliament.

He called for a cabinet reshuffle, dismissing the ministers of the Achaab Movement and Tahya Tounes from the coalition government and replace them with ministers of Qalb Tounes, which came second in the last legislative elections.

Ghannouchi’s call is likely to open many scenarios as divided Tunisia seeks a way out of the political stalemate.

Analysts argue that a new coalition can be formed without Ennahdha, although it is somewhat difficult to achieve.

They say that parties already represented in the government can form a coalition with the National bloc, which is made up of dissident MPs of Qalb Tounes, and the Independents and some non-members.

Another scenario could see Ennahdha paly a very risky card by withdrawing its ministers from the government, triggering a censure motion to bring it down, which would see Tunisian President Kais Saied use his power to appoint a new Prime Minister.