Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Moderate Islam triumphs in Tunisia

Results from the Tunisian elections held on Sunday suggest that the moderate Islamist party Ennahda will emerge as the biggest party but will not be able to form a majority.

Millions of Tunisians turned out to elect representatives to a new 217-seat assembly that will be charged with writing a new constitution.

The National Constituent Assembly also is likely to lay down the framework for a future system of government in the country.

The secretary general of Ennahda,Rachid Ghannouchi has said he was the party's candidate for the post of prime minister and may offer the president's job to caretaker premier Beji Caid Sebsi, the state news agency reported.

Whilst Ghannouchi is seen by many secularists as a dangerous radical,for some conservative clerics who see themselves as the benchmark of orthodox Islam,he is so liberal that they call him an unbeliever.

He models his approach on the moderate Islamism of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Indeed Tunisian media is reporting that it would not impose restrictions on how foreign tourists dress on beaches nor would it impose Islamic banking rules.

The party won around around 40% of votes cast on Sunday and it is the first Islamist election success in the region since Hamas won a Palestinian vote in 2006.

Once an interim government is formed a date will be set for new elections late next year or early in 2013.

Tunisia became the birthplace of the "Arab Spring" when Mohamed Bouazizi, a vegetable seller in a provincial town, set fire to himself in protest at poverty and government repression.

His suicide provoked a wave of protests which forced autocratic President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia in January.

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