Tunisia: MPs Protest Against Ghannouchi's Latest Visit to Turkey

Tunis/Tunisia — All MPs, with the exception of those from Ennahdha movement, protested during the evening Parliament's plenary against the recent visit of Rached Ghannouchi to Turkey.

Most MPs demanded, during debates on Saturday's visit, that Rached Ghannouchi renounce one of his two qualities, as leader of Ennahdha movement or Speaker of Parliament.

For her part, MP Abir Moussi announced that she had tabled a petition requesting the withdrawal of confidence in the Speaker of Parliament.

"It is not your right, after learning about state secrets and the workings of the state, to divulge its secrets to foreign entities," Moussa said, addressing the speaker of the parliament.

She also called for an extraordinary plenary session to hear the interior and foreign ministers on the visit and to clarify the parliament's position on the Libyan question.

As for MP Monji Rahoui, he called on the National Security Council to hold Rached Ghannouchi accountable for this visit.

For their part, Ennahda deputies stressed the right of the leader of the Movement to visit the country he wants, noting the relations between Tunisia and Turkey.

In this connection, the Movement's deputy Samir Dilou felt that this issue should have been dealt with within the structures of Ennahda movement and not in Parliament, as it was a partisan matter, given that Rached Ghannouchi had visited Turkey in his capacity as a representative of the party and not as Speaker of Parliament.

In his reply to MPs, the Speaker of Parliament said that he was used to "people's diplomacy" in the interests of the country, not the other way round.

"There is no legal rule that determines what is allowed for the Speaker of Parliament and what is not, in the same way as for the Prime Minister," he argued.

He stressed that the simultaneity of the visit, one day after the fall of the Jemli government, had nothing to do with causality, quoting the philosophical saying that "synchronicity does not mean causality".

Regarding Tunisia's relations with Turkey, he considered them to be secular relations.

He said he had informed President Kais Saied of the visit and that the President of the Republic had instructed him to convey his greetings to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying that "denigration spoils the debate".

Ghannouchi denied that he had a face-to-face meeting with the Turkish president, noting that the visit had nothing to do with the fact that Tunisia was not invited to the Berlin Conference on Libya.

In turn, MP Khaled Krichi (Democratic Bloc) stressed that the visit constituted an "attack" on national sovereignty, calling on the Speaker of Parliament to apologise and assume the role of statesman instead of confusing his qualities as leader of the Ennahdha party and Speaker of Parliament at the same time.

As for MP Hatem Mliki (the Qalb Tounes Bloc), he stressed the need to deepen the debate on the parties' link with diplomacy and to open an investigation into suspicions of party financing from abroad.

He suggested revising the internal rules of parliament and the decree governing parties, calling for the formation of a parliamentary committee to examine the Libyan case in order to coordinate with the official structures to determine an official position of parliament that corresponds to the official Tunisian position.

As for Mustafa ben Ahmed (Tahya Tounes party), he affirmed that any meeting or position issued by Rached Ghannouchi is binding on the parliament because Rached Ghannouchi represents a sovereign institution.

He accused Turkey of being a country that "works to destabilise the region", giving as an example its interference in Syria and criticising Erdogan's "arrogant treatment" of Tunisia, in welcoming Ghannouchi or during his recent unexpected visit to Tunisia.

For his part, MP Mohamed Goumani (Bloc of the Ennahdha movement) said that the Speaker of Parliament has many qualities, and he made the visit in his capacity as party president, warning against "making history a parallel" with the current reality and specifying that the Ennahdha movement rejects military intervention in Libya and supports the ceasefire.

As for MP Noureddine Arbaoui (Ennahdha Movement), he considered that Rached Ghannouchi is a "national figure who has been in politics for half a century and has the right to act at any time", stressing that Ennahdha movement supports a peaceful solution to the Libyan problem.

The HPR MPs voted by a majority to change the agenda of Wednesday's plenary session. They agreed to add an item on the hearing of Rached Ghannouchi on his latest visit to Turkey.

A total of 122 MPs voted to add this item to the plenary agenda, with 20 refusals and 8 abstentions.

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