A dissident member of the Nidaa Tounes party founded by Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on Sunday launched his own political grouping, several months after quitting the party.
Mohsen Marzouk, former Nidaa Tounes general secretary, announced in front of thousands of supporters the creation of the Tounes Movement Project with policies based on those of Habib Bourguiba who led the North African country to independence.
The new party also opposes the moderate Islamist Ennahda, which became the largest group in parliament after 22 lawmakers quit Nidaa Tounes in January.
Nidaa Tounes had already been weakened by the departure of Essebsi, in line with the constitution, after he was elected president in December 2014.
“Our party is open to women and young people and we call on them to participate actively in political life and to assume major responsibilities,” said the new party’s charter distributed to reporters.
Nidaa Tounes had been riven by bad blood between Marzouk and the president’s son, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, in what insiders said was a battle for succession.
The crisis came to a head at the end of October last year after accusations that Essebsi supporters wielding sticks had blocked rival party members from a meeting of its executive committee.
Nidaa Tounes was created in 2012 and included political personalities from the left and centre right, as well as former officials of the regime of ousted strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Nidaa Tounes now has only 64 MPs as against 69 for Ennahda.