Sport Tunisia: standoff at the top on diplomacy

16:45  03 june  2020
16:45  03 june  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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For over three weeks now, India and China have been facing off against each other in the Doklam plateau, a disputed area between Bhutan and China.

Le président du Parlement tunisien Rached Ghannouchi, lors d'une session parlementaire le 26 février 2020 à Tunis © FETHI BELAID The President of the Tunisian Parliament Rached Ghannouchi, during a parliamentary session on February 26, 2020 in Tunis

The active diplomacy of the President of the Tunisian Parliament Rached Ghannouchi Islamist-inspired movement Ennahdha, which encroaches on the prerogatives of President Kais Saied, is at the center of a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, a sign of renewed tensions.

As early as January, when Kais Saied, elected for three months, had not yet gone abroad, Rached Ghannouchi, then at the head of Parliament for barely two months, had already met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan .

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Diplomacy being constitutionally the domain of the President of the Republic, this had earned Mr. Ghannouchi a hearing in Parliament, during which he had defended himself by ensuring that he informed the presidency of this meeting, which he had carried out as leader of the Ennahdha party.

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- "Parallel diplomacy" -

The controversy resumed even more at the end of May, after Mr. Ghannouchi congratulated by telephone the head of the government of national unity in Libya, Fayez al-Sarraj, for the conquest of a Libyan air base from the hands of Marshal Haftar, a strong man from eastern Libya.

This position contrasts with the neutrality observed for a long time by Tunis, while Libya is torn between on the one hand the GNA recognized by the UN and supported by Turkey, with which Ennahdha is close, and on the other the pro -Haftar, supported in particular by the Emirates.

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The Doklam standoff , thus, tested the relationship between India and Bhutan and proved — at least at the government-to-government level While the standoff at Doklam is over for now, with troops from both India and China having disengaged, the debate over the meaning of this standoff will continue.

A sheriff’s deputy who stopped by an IRS office with a routine question about his taxes had no idea he was about to find himself in a terrifying standoff .

"Rached Ghannouchi has never hidden being part of the Turkey-Qatar axis - but he is now President of the Parliament and Tunisian institutions find themselves drawn into this axis", explains Hamza Meddeb, expert for the Carnegie center.

Several parties, including two allies of Ennahdha in the parliamentary majority, have therefore obtained that this diplomacy, described by some as "parallel", is debated in Parliament during a plenary session which started on Wednesday in a tense atmosphere.

Calls to demonstrate against Ennahdha and its president were also launched, without mobilizing much so far.

Pro-Turkish media have accused these protesters of fomenting a coup under the leadership of the United Arab Emirates, making Tunisia a "sounding board" of the increasingly direct confrontations between the various axes in neighboring Libya, underlines Mr. Meddeb.

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The troops may have stepped back, but the China-India dispute in the Himalayas is far from over.

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These diplomatic tensions are exacerbated by discord at the top between MM. Ghannouchi and Saied, by the rivalries within the government coalition between Ennahdha and his allies of circumstance, and by the deep divisions within the Parliament.

- Discord at the top -

The heterogeneous government coalition, which came to power in February with some difficulty, "managed to hold out thanks to the health crisis which froze rivalries in the face of a common enemy: the virus", underlines Mr. Meddeb. "With the deconfinement, it is the resumption of hostilities."

The special powers entrusted to the government to manage the crisis expire on June 11, and the decisions will then have to pass through complex parliamentary power plays: Ennahdha, main force of the Parliament, controls only a quarter of the seats.

President Saied, he went on the offensive against the second character of the state.

In a harsh speech at the end of May, he stressed that Tunisia had "only one president, inside and outside the country": an implicit criticism of the intense diplomatic activity of Mr. Ghannouchi , according to the presidency.

While Ennahdha must choose a new leader in 2020 during his quadrennial congress, "Ghannouchi plays his last straight line: he places his pawns to keep what he has as power and as levers", estimates the political scientist Selim Kharrat . "He has always had very high-level contacts, an undeniable international aura and he plays on that".

Facing him, Kais Saied, an academic without experience of power until his surprise election in October, "has not yet fully asserted" on the diplomatic front, underlines Mr. Kharrat.

These tensions came when Tunisia, which was already struggling to meet the social expectations of the population, was hit hard by the cessation of tourism and the economic shock of the pandemic.

"The risk is that a political crisis or blockages will exacerbate the economic and social consequences of the health crisis", underlines Mr. Meddeb.

cnp / kl / on

POLITIK-BLICK-UN appalled by reports of mass graves in Libya .
Jun 11 - The Reuters view on political developments beyond the top issues of the day follows: LIBYA - Tunis: The United Nations has been horrified by Reports that mass graves have been discovered in Libya. "International law requires the authorities to carry out prompt, effective and transparent investigations," said the UN agency in the North African country.

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