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Tunisian Parliament Questions Ghannouchi on Meeting with Erdogan

Tunisian Parliament Questions Ghannouchi on Meeting with Erdogan

Thursday, 16 January, 2020 - 09:00
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) meets with Tunisian Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi (L) in Istanbul, Turkey on January 11, 2020. (Turkish Presidency / Murat Cetinmuhurdar / Handout - Anadolu Agency)

The Tunisian parliament’s absolute majority on Wednesday highly criticized Speaker Rached Ghannouchi over his surprise visit to Turkey last week.

During his visit on Saturday, he held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Some political parties and lawmakers voiced their rejection to the meeting, which came amid a debate in Tunisia, Libya, and other countries on the Turkish role in Libya and Ankara’s decision to send forces in support of Tripoli’s Government of National Accord led by Fayez al-Sarraj.

A total of 122 deputies voted in favor of grilling Ghannouchi, while only 20 objected.

Although he stressed that the parliament didn't cover the costs of his short visit to Turkey which he depicted as “personal and pre-scheduled” out of his position as the head of Tunisia's Ennahda movement, lawmakers called for his resignation as long as he is “holding onto” his party leadership.

But Ennahda officials snapped back, saying Mustapha Ben Jafar was speaker from 2011 to 2014 and at the same time head of the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties (FDTL).

Some political parties and blocs took advantage of the criticism against Ghannouchi’s visit to exert pressure on Ennahda and limit its prospect of choosing a new candidate for the premiership.

Former Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui also slammed what he called the “parallel diplomacy” and visits carried out by Ghannouchi and figures from his circle to several capitals.

These meetings included the leaders of Algeria, Turkey, Malaysia, and Qatar.

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