World Bulletin / News Desk
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has paid tribute to the ruling Ennahda Party for offering "major concessions" to help solve the stalemate in Tunisia, expecting political rivals to agree on the new prime minister soon and unveiling details about a botched coup last summer.
"Ennahda has demonstrated great deal of historic responsibility because nothing oblige them to give up power after people gave them majority in the elections," Marzouki told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview at the Carthage presidential palace.
The Ennahda-led government has agreed to resign so that a new interim cabinet can be formed to organize and supervise upcoming elections.
Political rivals, however, remain split over who should be chosen to form the new government.
"We have made progress and early next week [which starts Monday] we would settle on the new prime minister," Marzouki said.
"The figure who will head the government knows that his mission will last for six months and that elections should be held within these six months with no room for delay," he stressed.
Marzouki asserted that the upcoming government would be "the last transitional government."
Tunisia's political rivals have been in talks over the formation of a new caretaker government aimed at ending the current crisis, which was triggered by the July assassination of opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi.
Brahmi was shot dead outside his home near Tunis on July 25, which led to a general strike and days of protests that paralyzed the capital.
At the time, security officials said Brahmi had been assassinated with the same weapons used to kill another opposition figure, Chokri Belaid, in February.
Last month, representatives from the government and a number of opposition parties came together for talks that they hoped would pull the country out of its political paralysis.
The Tunisian president believes that the country's current climate is suitable for holding polls.
"The new prime minister will have the job of assuring all political sides, including Ennahda and the opposition parties, and ensuring that elections are held in an atmosphere of calm," he told Anadolu.
"The people now know all the parties' platforms, and for the past two and half years, they have been listening to all sides," Marzouki said.
"The image is now clear; the people will give legitimacy to the next [post-election] government," he added.
Marzouki insisted that the country could not endure another summer without a new government.
"We would not endure another summer without a stable government, national reconciliation and a [political] program," he said.
Marzouki accused an "Arab power," which he did not name, of trying to undermine the Arab Spring revolutions, which started in Tunisia before spreading to Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria in 2011.
"We are not naive. There is an Arab power that decided to foil the Arab Spring everywhere, including in Tunisia," Marzouki told Anadolu.
"We would not allow any foreign side or counter-revolution to shatter the Tunisians' dream of a democratic, civil state," he asserted.
The Tunisian president said that calls to storm several state institutions last summer were part of a "coup attempt."
"There was an intention to occupy the constituent assembly among other sovereign sites in the country to call for the departure of all sides," he said.
"There was an attempt to get me out of his [Carthage] presidential palace though undemocratic means," he added.
However, Marzouki said, these attempts failed thanks to the people, the army and the republican guards.
"The people did not respond to these calls, and the army side with the legitimacy and not with the coup," he asserted.
Marzouki, a veteran activist and opposition leader, said that recent "acts of terrorism" that targeted Tunisian army troops were part of the "counter-revolution."
"I could not imagine that a president with an activism background would have to deal first with terror," he noted.
"Our priorities were economy and politics, and we were surprised by the terrorist attacks," he added.
"There are several sides, including foreign ones, who want to shake Tunisia's stability and thwart the success of the Arab Spring in Tunisia."
THANK YOU TURKEY
The Tunisian president did not forget to hail what he described as Turkey's historic contribution to the Arab Spring, particularly the Tunisian revolution.
"I'd like to seize this opportunity to thank the Turkish people and government for their major support," Marzouki told Anadolu.
"All our demands were met by Turkish officials, whether in terms of political or financial support or military cooperation," he noted.
Marzouki voiced hope that relations between the two countries would be further boosted.
The Tunisian leader praised a recent democratic package announced by the Turkish government regarding the rights of Kurds.
"I believe Turkey is on the right track," he said.
Asked whether he would contest the upcoming presidential elections, Marzouki said it was too early to think about that.
"My top priorities now are to have the constitution written and the elections organized as soon as possible," he said.
"One month before the elections when candidacies would be made I will decide based on my personal situation and family obligations."Last Mod: 18 Kasım 2013, 10:37