Tunisia’s Embattled Speaker Ghannouchi Bounces Back

Tunisian Ennahdha Party leader Rached Ghannouchi with Party's vice-president Abdelfattah Mourou
Tunisian Islamist Ennahdha Party leader Rached Ghannouchi (R) attends with Party’s vice-president Abdelfattah Mourou the opening of Ennahdha’s three-day congress on May 20, 2016 in Tunis. – Thousands of people attend the opening ceremony of the congress, the first one since 2012, held at a sports complex in Rades, south of the capital Tunis, amid heavy police security. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

Speaker of Tunisia’s national Assembly Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Islamist Ennahda party that has had an influential national role for a decade has returned home after he was admitted on Sunday.

80-year old Ghannouchi who opposed President Kais Saied move last week, to seize governing powers postponed a meeting of his party’s powerful Choura council at short notice.

He dismissed the prime minister and froze parliament, steps that the Ennahda leader tagged as a coup.

His aides did not say what was wrong with Ghannouchi, who was hospitalised for a week last month with COVID-19. He was taken to a hospital briefly on Saturday and later discharged.

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“After a few hours in the military hospital, Ghannouchi returned home and he is fine now”, an advisor said.

Suppressed before the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy, Ennahda has since then been the most consistently powerful political party, backing successive coalition governments and shaping the 2014 constitution.

However, economic stagnation, declining services and public perception of increased corruption have dented its support and Saied’s sudden declaration on Sunday appears to have widespread backing.

Ghannouchi faces internal dissent within Ennahda over both his handling of the immediate crisis and his strategic choices since the 2019 election.

Party figures regard the current crisis as the biggest Ennahda has faced since 2011 and a growing number of members have called on Ghannouchi to quit.

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