Two decades after his death, the late President Habib Bourguiba is still strongly present in the Tunisian political scene, where the struggle between parties to employ his legacy and invest it politically, amid controversy over the legitimacy of this employment and its goals.
A group of activists previously involved in the electoral campaign of President Kais Saied re-announced the establishment of a political party called the “Bourguiba Belaid Free Party” in reference to the late president and leftist leader Chokri Belaid, the debate again over the exploitation of Bourguiba’s image and his political and intellectual legacy.
The spokeswoman for the new political project, Ensaf Al-Hamami, says that this party will present itself as an alternative to uniting the political families, right and left, from the Bourguibians to those who believe in the ideas of the late leader Chokri Belaid, the former Secretary General of the United National Democratic Party.
The Free Bourguiba Belaidy Party presents itself as an opponent of the Ennahda movement, which Hammami believes has “failed during the 10 years since it took power to advance the country.”
On the accusations leveled by supporters of the Free Destourian Party of promoting this political project as an alternative to the party of Abeer Moussa, which raises the banner of Bourguiba, our interviewer stresses that “Moussi has nothing to do with Bourguiba, and that she is a descendant of the dissolved Constitutional Rally, and it offends the image of the former president.”
Al-Hamami accuses Abeer Moussa – who previously held the position of Assistant Secretary-General of the dissolved ruling party – of practicing “political hypocrisy” by exploiting the image of Bourguiba in her party activities and within Parliament, and she “was not known to have any position when he placed Ben Ali Bourguiba under house arrest after he was overthrown.” him and seized power.”
In this regard, Khaled Shawkat, head of the Arab Democracy Institute, describes these parties as “political transformation projects with populist and fascist contents, and they have no connection with leader Habib Bourguiba or Bourguiba.”
And he adds in his speech to Al Jazeera Net that “when Ben Ali turned against Bourguiba and put him under house arrest for nearly 12 years, he was prevented from visiting alive, and even from just reading Al-Fatihah on his grave after his death, Abir Moussa was leading the choir of praise for the late President Ben Ali.”
Shawkat pointed out that such parties that falsely bear the Bourguiba banner are in fact harming his history and thought “by adopting a radical fascist interpretation that constitutes a major ideological and political deviation of the constitutional family that Bourguiba led for decades within the line of moderation and moderation.”
New reading of the project
Many consider that the late President Beji Caid Essebsi – who previously founded the “Nidaa Tounes” party and brought him to power – may be the only political leader who has succeeded in the correct employment of Bourguiba’s political thought, given the relationship between the two men.
In this context, the journalist and political researcher Munther Baldafi, in a statement to Al Jazeera Net, considers that Beji Caid Essebsi was the most important heir to the Bourguibi legacy and the project on which it was built.
However, he pointed out that Essebsi proposed a new reading of the Bourguiba project and completed it in its liberal democratic dimension based on the plurality of parties, which was absent in presenting Bourguiba’s vision of political life, according to his estimation.
Beldiafi expected that the conflict over the Bourguibi legacy will continue between the political leaders, describing it as an open conflict.
Political leaders – formerly involved in the Nidaa Tounes party – in turn installed the Bourguiba wave to promote their political projects, but they failed – according to observers – to win over the leader’s supporters.