Hamma Hammami, spokesperson of the leftist Popular Front party said that those calling on the prime minister to resign are protecting their own personal interests. He also spoke about a political mafia controlling the state.

Minister Hammami, how do you see the Prime Minister’s refusal to resign from office, and the parliament’s intention to grant him trust again with disregard to the presidential initiative – agreed upon by the ruling coalition- to form a national unity government under a new prime minister?

Hamma Hammami, spokesperson of the leftist Popular Front party said that those calling on the prime minister to resign are protecting their own personal interests. He also spoke about a political mafia controlling the state.

Minister Hammami, how do you see the Prime Minister’s refusal to resign from office, and the parliament’s intention to grant him trust again with disregard to the presidential initiative – agreed upon by the ruling coalition- to form a national unity government under a new prime minister?

I think that the sitting Prime Minister Habib Essid was insulted by the President’s initiative. Therefore, he chose to go to the parliament to present his point of view. He wants to leave the government at the will of the parliament rather than the will of the President.

A few days ago, the Prime Minister was expected to appear in a parliamentary hearing; it was canceled because the Prime Minister sought the parliament’s trust. However, you refused holding the hearing, why?

We refused to hold the hearing on a parliamentary level because we simply did not want to part take in the ongoing political hypocrisy. We made our position clear to the rest of the parliamentary coalitions that if they want the resignation of Habib Essid, they must get it constitutionally. They must call for a parliamentary session to withdraw trust from him instead of calling him to an aimless hearing. Calling for a hearing was grossly hypocritical, especially since we were aware that the parliament had prepared in advance to call Essid for a hearing in order for him to give a speech, receive gratitude and then be deposed.

Prime Minister Essid refused to resign on his own accord, and insisted to go to the parliament. Do you think that he has secrets to reveal about the governmental coalition?

I do not believe that the Prime Minister is capable of revealing dangerous secrets about the coalition parties, because this requires a level of courage and political defiance that Habib Essid unfortunately lacks. However, he is definitely not entirely responsible for the failure of his government, all of the coalition parties share the responsibility (Nidaa Tounes, Ennahda Movement, Afeq Tounes, the Free Nation Union).

In many interviews, the Prime Minister said that he was threatened with dishonor and abuse if he did not resign on his own accord. Who do you think has made these threats?

Today, we face an economic and political mafia that works in the light and controls state institutions. According to data presented by the Tunisian Union for Industry and Trade, the black market today represents 60 % of the Tunisian economy. This percentage indicates that there are powerful economic lobbies who have common interests with political, security, judicial, administrative, parliamentary and media institutions. This mafia has developed connections in the parliament, which become an auction in which the powerful can by representatives and in the presidential palace in order to shape the political scene to fit its interests of making economic gains and avoid accountability. Today, no one can deny the ascendency of these mafias and their attempts to control the political scene. However, the bigger problem now is the organic ties between these mafias and the ruling coalition and the state institutions.

Are these –in your opinion- mafias powerful enough to dominate the political decision of the country?

Definitely. These mafias largely influence state institutions and they launch defamation campaigns against those who try to stand up to them and push for a change that does not serve their interests. Since the troika government was formed by Ennahda Movement, these mafias began to penetrate state institutions until they became an unstoppable power that puts pressure on the state from the inside. This situation escalated until it was no longer a secret. Merely listening to the speeches of some Nidaa Tounes Party leaders would give you an idea about the rise of these mafias.

Does this mean that Nidaa Tounes is the Trojan horse for these mafias?

Nidaa Tounes movement includes some of these mafias within its ranks, which explains the absence of the intellectual unity between its components, and the appearance of figures who entered the political scene driven by greed. However, this does not mean that Ennahda Movement is not connected to these mafias or that these mafias do not affect the rest of the coalition parties.

How do you explain the crisis the country is facing despite the agreement on removing the Prime Minister from office?

We have previously said that Tunisia is now in a ruling crisis, never before has the country seen seven ministers calling on their Prime Minister to resign while holding on tight to their positions – this is politically and ethically unacceptable. Today there is a conflict for positions under the surface while on the surface everyone wants to hold Habib Essid soley responsible for the failure. Some of the ministers in Essid’s government aim at replacing him, while other ministers only want to maintain their offices, with no consideration for the country’s interests and without having programs to move the country out of its crisis.

Does this mean that the Popular Consolidation, an opposition party, wants Essid to remain in office?

The Popular Consolidation has never supported Essid’s government, and when we foresaw his failure, we were accused of opposing for the sake of opposing; yet today, they criticize him more than we do.

We at the Consolidation have previously said that this government will fail and we wanted it out, but we only wanted that on the condition that the next government presents a program for reform that can enable the country to overcome its crisis.

Meanwhile, it appears that the other parties calling for Essid’s resignation do not want to depose him because of his failure to fulfill his tasks, rather they want to install a new Prime Minister on whom they have more influence. Another reason for their calls is the desire of their leaders to obtain ministerial positions and boost their personal gains. Therefore, we say that we want Essid out of office, but we refuse to remove him merely because these parties are seeking to achieve certain interests.

What is the Consolidation’s position on granting Habib Essid parliamentary trust again?

As for the Consolidation’s vote on the issue, we still have not had a thorough discussion. However, we will make our political disagreement with the Prime Minister as much as our contrast with those who want him out, and we will expose how they put their personal interests before the interests of Tunisia.

You say that you will support a government that has a program to move the country out of its crisis, have you not found that in the Carthage Document program, which will be the framework for the coming government?

The Carthage Document that was signed in the Presidential Palace by the parties and organizations who support the National Unity Government Initiative is not worth the ink with which it was written.

The document is void of content and even the Prime Minister said that it is not different from his governmental program. All the discourse connected to this document cannot be relied on to be a governmental program to end the crises, because it lacks concrete procedures and a specific timeframe to solve the country’s predicaments like unemployment, corruption, the lack of development and terrorism. Therefore, we see that the aim behind everything that has happened was not to solve the problem, rather it aimed at the removal of the Prime Minister Habib Essid.

What are your criticisms of the program of the next government, represented in the Carthage Document?

Some of the procedures stated in the document that will be executed by the next government are extremely painful for the population, like acting upon the unconstitutional Economic Reconciliation law. This law is not only unconstitutional it also violates the concept of transitional justice and protects the corrupt. Therefore, we see the so-called Carthage Document as a mere political maneuver to avoid accountability and we find it strange to see it signed by some of the opposition parties.

How do you foresee the nature of the future government?

It will definitely be a malleable government that lacks  personality – it will follow orders.

By whom exactly will these orders be given?

This government will be formed to support the part of Nidaa Tounes Party that is controlled by Hafez Caid Essibsi, the President’s son. With the government’s help, this part of the party will dominate over the other, and will take control of the assignment process to place its supporters in sensitive institutional positions and retain the balance in the ruling coalition against Ennahda movement. Nonetheless, Nidaa Tounes Party and Ennahda Movement are in complete agreement on expanding their coalition to “wage war” on the Tunisian people and its economic and social rights. This government will execute all the painful reforms handed to it by international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund.

Who will have the final say in assigning the new Prime Minister, is it the Tunisian President, the ruling coalition parties, or – as some people say- the international financial institutions?

I think the next Prime Minister will be a figure that is close to the Presidency and on agreement with the international financial institutions.

Do you think Ennahda Movement will seek a bigger number of ministerial offices in the next government?

At the moment, Ennahda movement does not pay as much attention to the quantity of its ministerial offices as to their quality. Its main aim is to keep the ministries of justice and internal affairs, in order to keep the files that can incriminate it in the dark. Other than that, it only wants to guarantee the loyalty of the other coalition parties. Ennahda Movement today cannot aim for more than this because it no longer enjoys supportive international and regional circumstances.

Some people accuse you of becoming bourgeois after photos were taken of you watching a tennis match at the Roland Garros tournament. Are they right?

Those who make these accusations want to promote a certain stereotype of the members of the Popular Consolidation; however, we love life and we want to see the Tunisian people living in prosperity. Those people are ethically bankrupt and they are always ready to lie and make up stories. I did not attend the Roland Garros Tournament, rather I was watching an interview with the Tunisian Tennis Champion Anas Jaber in Tunis after a final match. I attended that match because I love sports and I love theater and cinema and I cheer for every Tunisian who excels.