Tunisia: Nine Members of the Popular Front Bloc in Parliament Confirm Their Resignation (Statement)

Tunis/Tunisia — Nine members of the Popular Front bloc in the House of People's Representatives (HPR) confirmed Wednesday evening in a joint statement their resignation from the 15-member parliamentary front group.

The deputies who resigned are Heikal Belgacem, Ayman Alaoui, Ziad Lakhdar, Chafik Ayadi, Abdelmoumen Benanes, Fethi Chamkhi, Mourad Hemaidi, Mongi Rahoui and Nizar Amami. They justified their resignation by "the scale of the Popular Front crisis and after the deadlock in dialogue with its parliamentary bloc despite the constant appeals addressed to the spokesman of the Front Hamma Hammami ".

They considered that the resignation reflects "a reality of a crisis created by certain components of the Front" which "have sought to impose their control and exclude other components and militants".

MPs described their decision as "serious", stressing that they are not shirking their responsibility for the deterioration of the climate within the Popular Front and reaffirming their determination "to overcome this situation with the Popular Front activists".

In this regard, they called on all components of the Front to react positively to this delicate situation in order to contribute to the search for solutions to overcome the current crisis.

The resigning deputies also stated that "the peddled allegations that summarise the crisis as a dispute over the appointment of the Pf candidate for the presidential elections to be held next November are completely baseless". In this regard, they said that "all components of the Front were aware that reaching agreement on this issue was possible".

Haykel Ben Belgacem said on Wednesday that the resignation of nine members of his bloc was intended to "express a firm position and provoke a positive shock at the end of which a serious debate will be launched within the coalition".

"FP MPs have sent three official letters requesting urgent meetings with the Council of Secretaries and the FP spokesman, Hamma Hammami," he said. The aim, he noted, was to engage in a dialogue around the upcoming events and the upcoming elections for which the FP must prepare. "There was no response to these three letters," the MP regretted.

The nine deputies resigned on Tuesday at the HPR Office, while MP Ahmed Seddik resigned as bloc president following a meeting of the parliamentary group on the front.

The Popular Front announced on March 19 that the Secretary General of the Workers' Party, Hamma Hammami, was its candidate for the 2019 presidential election, after discussions with the Secretaries General of the parties forming the FP (7 parties), while the Central Committee of the Unified Democratic Patriots Party (one of the components of the Popular Front) decided a week earlier to propose the leader and deputy to parliament, Monji Rahoui, candidate in the front's presidential election.

The Popular Front, a political gathering of leftists, nationalists, environmental activists and independentists, was created in 2012, and appointed Hamma Hammami as its spokesperson.

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