Tunis: Rashid Gannouchi, the influential leader of Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Al Nahda party, will stand in the next parliamentary elections in October, a move widely seen as an attempt to seek a leadership position in the country.
Exiled in London for about two decades during the time of former president Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali, Gannouchi has been a major force since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, but he has never run for any official position.
The 78-year-old remains a dominant figure who critics say effectively controls the country in tandem with the secular-minded President Beji Qaid Al Sebsi, 92, often dubbed the “two sheikhs” in reference to their age.
“The decision to present Gannouchi at the top of the party’s electoral list in Tunis1, is to have leaders of parties play a more important role at this crucial stage in the history of the democratic transition in Tunisia,” Al Nahda party official Emad Khmiri told Reuters.
Gannouchi’s candidacy for a parliamentary seat reinforces expectations that he is seeking to play a bigger role, possibly as prime minister or speaker of parliament, if his party wins the election.
Parliamentary elections are expected to be held on October 6 with a presidential vote following on November 17.