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North Africa turns the page on Islamist governments

18 October 2021 News   5350  

In quick succession, disappointments have followed one another for the Muslim Brotherhood in the Maghreb, since the spring of 2021. From the Algerian legislative elections, in April, to the Moroccan general elections, in September, through the institutional coup de force of President Kaïs Saïed in Tunisia , in July, the Maghreb countries turned – each in their own way – the page of Islamist governments that had come (or associated) to power a decade earlier in the wake of the “Arab Spring”.

By Atmane Tazaghart

Worse still, the Algerian Brotherhood has positioned itself to become the pivot of the parliamentary majority that the new President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, absolutely needed to stand up to the clans that are hostile to him in the workings of the Algerian regime. For the nationalist parties, which were the traditional satellites of power, were wiped out by the Hirak (the popular uprising that swept away the Bouteflika dynasty), as was the case with the FLN or the RND, whose main leaders ended up in prison for corruption. President Tebboune had, for a moment, effectively envisaged supporting his presidential majority on the so-called “moderate” Islamists, not hesitating to praise them in a famous interview with Le Point, stating that, unlike the Islamists of the 1990s, those of today are not “ideological”!

Except that, to the general surprise, in the evening of the elections of 12 June, the good old FLN won the absolute majority in parliament. And it is therefore the former single party that is in charge of forming the government, to the great displeasure of the Brothers who have been forced to become “opponents” of President Tebboune, after having sung his praises for many months. It is true that the followers of Hassan al-Banna, the Egyptian founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, experienced in the art of Taqqiya and double talk, are no longer at a contradiction!

It is true that the setback suffered by the Algerian Brotherhood did not take place in optimal democratic conditions. The one inflicted on the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood is not either. At least from a formal point of view. Following a movement of popular discontent born of a generalized fed up with corruption, clientelism and the political and administrative incompetence of the Islamists in power, President Kaïs Saïed intervened to freeze the constitution, dismiss the government and dissolve the parliament. Radical measures that are not overly encumbered by legal and constitutional formalities (the Tunisian President is a professor of constitutional law), but which have raised a surprising surge of popular support.

Faced with this institutional coup d’état, the old leader of the Muslim Brotherhood party Ennahda, Sheikh Rached Ghanouchi, has alternated between attempts at a coup d’état and calls for dialogue. To the point of disconcerting even his most loyal followers. So much so, that after barely two months, the Islamist party imploded. And more than a hundred of these cadres resigned collectively after having tried, in vain, to convince the old sheikh to leave the party leadership.

The terrible summer season of the Maghrebian Muslim Brotherhood ended on 8 September with the Moroccan legislative elections, which ended in a crushing defeat for the Brotherhood’s PJD party. For ten years, this Islamist party has ruled without sharing the Moroccan parliamentary and governmental life. However, at the end of a ballot that took place in undeniable democratic conditions, it obtained only 13 seats, compared to 125 in the previous legislature!

This electoral debacle of the Moroccan Muslim Brotherhood definitively sounded the death knell of the Islamist governments that came to power a decade earlier in the wake of the “Arab Spring” revolts.