News / Middle East

    Tunisia's Ruling Party Faces Splits as Lawmakers Quit

    FILE - Tunisian Minister for Political Affairs Mohsen Marzouk, speaks at the Blair House in Washington, May 20, 2015.
    FILE - Tunisian Minister for Political Affairs Mohsen Marzouk, speaks at the Blair House in Washington, May 20, 2015.
    Reuters

    Sixteen Tunisian lawmakers from President Beji Caid Essebsi's Nidaa Tounes party resigned on Friday over a dispute involving his son in a move that may allow Islamist rivals to become the main parliamentary power.

    The resignations deepened a split between two wings in Nidaa Tounes just days after its secretary-general, Mohsen Marzouk, announced he would break away and form a new political movement over accusations Essebsi's son was trying to control the party.

    The rift in Nidaa Tounes, formed after Tunisia's 2011 revolt against Zine Abidine Ben Ali, comes at a delicate time as the North African state struggles to contain jihadist violence and encourage economic growth.

    "The son of the president and his group took control of party and carried out a coup," Walid Jalled, one of the lawmakers told Reuters. "We will not accept being like a flock of sheep."

    Another lawmaker, Abada El Kefi, said three more Nidaa Tounes parliament members would resign when they returned from travel overseas.

    After this week's resignations, Nidaa Tounes will have 70 lawmakers in the 217-member congress while Islamist party Ennahda has 69 seats. If more Nidaa Tounes legislators left, Ennahda could become the main party in parliament.

    The resignations may complicate attempts to push through sensitive reforms that Tunisia's international lenders are demanding to curb public spending and kickstart an economy hit by three major Islamist militant attacks this year.

    Nidaa Tounes emerged as a political force in 2013 to lead protests against a government formed by the Islamist party Ennahda. It beat Ennahda in elections in 2014 and went on to form a coalition with its rival.

    Divisions have been growing inside Nidaa Tounes - which means Call of Tunisia - since last year after a dispute emerged between a wing of the party led by Hafedh Caid Essebi the president's son and another by Marzouk, one of its founders.

    Essebsi's backers dismiss claims they wanted to put his son in a position of power through a dynastic handover of control of the party. Critics say Essebsi's camp had ridden roughshod over party regulations.

    With a new constitution and free elections, Tunisia has been praised as a model of democratic transition since the ouster of Ben Ali. It has mostly escaped the violent upheaval of other states in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

    But after three major attacks by militants last year, Tunisia is struggling with security challenges. It needs reforms to help ease public spending and create economic opportunities that many Tunisians still see as a priority.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora