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Tunisia: Who is Hashemi El Hamdi? And can ISIE really invalidate his ”Aaridha”?

No one expected this Tunisian political outsider whom very few people know and had even laughed while listening to his program, always referred to by his running mates who always ended their election sermons on TV calling for his election as President.

The man and his “Aaridha” or “Popular Petition for Freedom, Justice and Development PPLJD,” appeared only in early October in opinion polls that gave him no more than five seats. In three weeks, the Coluche-like candidacy grabbed 23 seats, causing consternation of many Tunisians.

The man, Hashemi El Hamdi, is native of Sidi Bouzid, precisely the Hamdi tribe in this region and in other parts of Tunisia.

He was the man whose program was called nothing less than “how to make Tunisia an Eldorado in 90 days” and whose running mates promised free transportation and 500,000 jobs from November 1.

A man whose lists succeeded, according to Professor of Political Sociology (University of Tunis), Mouldi Lahmar who was speaking on Wednesday on the National Radio, because of the family and tribal origins of Hamdi and also the support of a “network of people who serve.”

Who is he?

Bachelor of Arts in 1985, he collaborated with the newspaper “Assabah” during the lifetime of its founder Habib Sheikh-Rouhou and the newspaper “Erray” of the late Hassib Ben Ammar.

Very close to the Islamist movement of Ennahdha, he fled Tunisia to England during the trial against Ennahdha where the “Doctor” as his supporters call him, would have obtained a PhD in Arabic language, history and Islamic studies, according to Tunisian newspaper “The Maghreb.”

This “former Islamist who became an ally of the Ben Ali’s regime, made himself known through Al-Mutakilla, his satellite television channel which broadcasts from London and is followed in Tunisia,” according to French news agency AFP. He is described as “a London-based Tunisian billionaire with extravagant promises” by the French newspaper Le Figaro.

Nobody knows the origin or the extent of his fortune, except for Tunisian newspaper “The Maghreb,” which in this context makes the link between his fortune and his TV channel Al Mustakilla earning him financial support from the Carthage Palace at the time of Ben Ali, in “The Maghreb” which also refers to “check links” with Gulf countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through ads “received for his channel.

From him, Tunisians will keep those images in which he praised the efforts of Leila Trabelsi to provide an Islamic culture to her daughters and especially this picture brandishing an edition of the Koran made by the former Tunisian President, when he tried to play the mediator between him and Rached Ghannouchi whom he was the disciple.

Speaking about him in the “Maghreb” newspaper, his brother said he had made a lot for the Tunisian opposition “when he was close to Ben Ali and was able to help release 700 political prisoners and lift administrative restrictions on 4,000 supporters of Ennahdha.”

Lists of Al Aaridha in which Hamdi does not appear

Tuesday night, on Tunisian National TV channel, Ali Laarayedh, politburo member of Ennahdha, publicly disavowed him and denied any link between his party and this man.

On the same evening, on Hannibal TV, lawyer and opponent Mohamed Abbou wondered “how a person who is the subject of a criminal investigation in the case known as the ATCE (Tunisian Agency for External Communications ) which funded media campaigns for Ben Ali and his policies, can run for the Constituent Assembly. ”

Ridha Torkhani, a member of the Independent Higher Authority for Election (ISIE), did not rule out in a statement to TAP, however, “the possibility of invalidating lists of El Aridha for continuing their propaganda via the channel” Al Mustakilla.”

He added that several lawyers have filed a relevant complaint to the ISIE. Answering, Hashemi El Hamdi, President of El Aridha said in a statement to the same news agency that “lists of El Aridha had not broken the law since he was the only to have been invited by the “Al Mustakilla” during the campaign, which cannot be considered a violation as long as he is not a candidate for the Constituent Assembly.”

Morever, it is true that the name of Hashemi El Hamdi, whom his supporters always present him as the candidate for the upcoming presidential election, does not appear in any of the lists of Al Aarridha!

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