Tunisia's Ennahda won't contest presidency

Le Monde reports on the crisis in Tunisia, after the murder of Mohammed Brahmi and eight soldiers at the Algerian border, now compounded by the Egyptian June 30. As rumored for a few weeks, this suggests Ennahda has officially taken a decision not to present a presidential candidate in elections next year:  

Devant l'urgence de la situation, les débats internes sont mis en sourdine. "Le courant dur chez nous est mis à la retraite", assure ce responsable. Des décisions devraient sous peu être annoncées, comme celle, prise depuis un moment mais encore jamais rendue publique, qu'Ennahda ne présentera pas de candidat à la prochaine élection présidentielle.

Of course, circumstances can change (as they did for the Brothers in Egypt, although they must regret that choice) and a new decision on the presidency can be made next year. Or they can choose to back a third-party candidate (or indeed even President Moncef Marzouki, the incumbent, for re-election as he has been fairly loyal to the Troika alliance). But it shows the events in Egypt have had their impact. 

Ghannouchi on HardTalk

The Ennahda leader on the BBC's interview show. A critique of the interview is here. Ghannouchi makes some controversial comments about Chokri Belaid's accusations of Ennahda tolerating violence, made shortly before his assassination.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

On Nahda's victory in Tunisia

I am about to leave Tunisia — I'm writing this from the airport — and wanted to write a few thoughts down before I left, as I promised in my post two days ago. It's still not clear what the final results are, as the Election Commission is taking a very long time to count the votes and make sure there are no errors. I don't think any election has been as meticulously scrutinized, ever! But it's clear that Nahda has won a plurality of seats in the constituent assembly — right now they are projected as having won at least 32% of seats, far less than the 47% I was hearing on Monday. I suspect the final result will show them in the low 40s. Even at 32%, they still obtained twice the number of seats as the second party, the CPR.

Now, there are all sorts of allegations floating about. Some say Nahda supporters were told to vote CPR in part, and some hardline secularists view CPR as  a Trojan horse for Nahda. This is a bit much, as CPR also benefited from a strong campaign (or so I've been told) and the personality of longtime dissident Moncef Marzouki.

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Tunisia's Nahda and Islamists post-revolutions

There's a good piece on Nahda, the Tunisian Islamist party, by Graham Usher at MERIP which is a good antidote to some of the more alarmist "the Islamists are coming!" stuff:

Compared with other parts of Tunisia’s new political order, however, Nahda looks well placed. Analysts say the movement came out well from the tumult of Tunisia’s second revolution. Its national structure gives it an edge over the dispersal of votes likely to be caused by the spread of new parties. “Nahda has a base,” says the trade unionist Abdelkifi, who is no Islamist. “Tunisians are religious. It will attract those who do not know where to go.” Ghannouchi says if Nahda "gets a 30-35 percent vote for the constituent assembly, we’ll be very happy." Others will be alarmed by such a proportion, and not only in Tunisia. The 35 percent figure is probably hype, say observers, though 25 percent is possible. But the truth is that nobody really knows the depth of Nahda’s base, or that of any other party, due to the extreme de-politicization of Tunisian society during the Ben Ali era.

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