TUNIS — Five months after polls swept an Islamist-led coalition to power in post-revolution Tunisia, the country’s kaleidoscopic opposition is striving to unite and fight for a secular state.
The myriad opposition parties in Tunisia’s constituent assembly are merging into bigger blocs, hoping to mount a stiffer challenge to the dominant Islamist party Ennahda.
The secular movement may also have found a natural leader with former prime minister Beji Caid Essebsi, the politician who steered last year’s transitional period and is staging a comeback at age 85.
Ennahda and its governing partners, the Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol, snapped up most of the votes in the October 23 election that capped dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s ouster nine months earlier.
The other parties were left to lick their wounds but a leftist and a centrist bloc are emerging, while a third current that includes former members of Ben Ali’s ruling party is also uniting behind the legacy of Habib Bourguiba, the father of Tunisia’s independence.
“We’re sliding towards a theocratic regime, so now the opposition wants to regroup to balance two main forces: the Islamists who wants to implement Shariah and the liberals who defend a democratic, modern and secular state,” political analyst Mounir Charfi said.
“The Islamists – with Ennahda, Hizb Ettahrir – are already a well-structured and disciplined force. A parallel force therefore needs to be created,” he said. — AFP