Tunisian Ennahda Nominates Abdelfattah Mourou for Presidential Elections

  • Ennahda, a moderate Islamist movement, is the largest party in Tunisia.
  • Mourou believes that Islamic movements should separate the da'wa and political sides.
  • The final list of candidates will be announced by the IHEC on August 31 at the latest.

Tunisia’s Ennahda has decided to nominate Abdel Fattah Mourou to run in early presidential elections. The decision to nominate Mourou, deputy leader of the movement, was made at a meeting of the group’s consultative council Tuesday evening. The elections are expected to be held on September 15. He was invited after the death of President Baji Kaid Essebsi last month.

The Ennahdha Party, also known as Renaissance Party or simply Ennahdha, is a self-defined “Muslim democratic” political party in Tunisia. Founded as “The Movement of Islamic Tendency” in 1981, Ennahdha was inspired by the Iranian revolution, and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, it has also been called “the mildest and most democratic Islamist party in history”. Rached Ghannouchi is the movement’s founder and has remained its president for 38 years without interruption.

Ennahda, a moderate Islamist movement, is the largest party in Tunisia. This is the first time that the Movement has nominated one of its members for the presidency since the start of the democratic transition after the 2011 revolution that toppled the regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Mourou’s candidacy has sparked controversy within Ennahda. Once the nomination of Mourou was announced, the party’s leader, Rafik Abdel Salam, wrote on his official page that “choosing a candidate within Ennahda is a wrong choice and does not respond to the requirements of the stage….The unit is wrong and is a fake unit.”

The movement had merely supported a candidate from outside the presidential elections in 2014, while contributing to the promotion of Moncef Marzouki as president of the country, in indirect elections through the Constituent Assembly, in 2011. Mourou, 71, has been president of the Tunisian parliament since the inauguration of its former president, Mohamed Nasser, as interim president the day after Essebsi’s death.

Mourou believes that Islamic movements should separate the da’wa and political sides. In late 2016, he said Ennahdha saw this separation as necessary after the 2011 revolution. He explained that there is no longer a need for a comprehensive movement that does everything, adding that “the best is to specialize in the work because it is essential for achievement.”

The final list of candidates will be announced by the IHEC on August 31 at the latest.

Abdelfattah Mourou is a Tunisian politician and lawyer. He is a co-founder of the Ennahdha Party and serves as its Vice-President. He has been First Vice President of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People since 2014.

Abdelfattah Mourou was born on June 1, 1948. He graduated from the Faculty of Law in 1970 and then served as a judge until 1977 when he turned to practice law. Mourou met with Rashid Ghannouchi in 1968. They began working on the establishment of an Islamic movement in the early 1970s before being arrested in 1973. The two men persuaded dozens of sympathizers of the Islamic trend to establish the Jamaat-e-Islami organization secretly, before going out in public and establishing the Islamic Trend Movement, in 1981.

But the harassment pushed the man into exile and then to prison, after returning to Tunisia. With a violent crackdown by the regime of former president Rin El Abidine Ben Ali, Mourou announced his freeze on Ennahda. After the January 2011 revolution, Mourou refused to return to the movement and independently participated in the Constituent Assembly elections. However, he soon returned to the ranks as deputy party leader, following a conference on July 2012.

He won the legislative elections in 2014 as a candidate on the Ennahda list and later won the seat of his family to serve as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives.

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George Mtimba

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