Tunisia's Islamist-inspired party wants leader to be house speaker

Rached Ghannouchi, the veteran leader of Tunisia's Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, has never run for office (AFP Photo/ANIS MILI)

Tunis (AFP) - Tunisia's Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party which last month came top in legislative polls put forward its leader Rached Ghannouchi on Sunday to head the next parliament.

Ennahdha, which won 52 out of 217 seats in October's parliamentary election -- well short of the 109 needed to govern -- also insisted that the new prime minister of Tunisia should be selected from the party.

Ghannouchi, a divisive figure and veteran leader of Ennahdha, was proposed as candidate for speaker of parliament by the party's Shura Council, according to council chief Abdelkarim Harouni.

Ghannouchi has led Ennahdha since it was founded almost 40 years ago, carrying the movement to victory in a 2011 election, just months after the party reemerged from underground following the revolution that ousted autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

He has never run for office but won a parliamentary seat in Tunis in the October 6 legislative polls.

Harouni on Sunday reiterated that Ennahdha wants one of its own figures to head the new government in the North African country.

The Islamist-inspired party has until Friday to announce its candidate for the premiership.

Ennahdha has been holding negotiations with other political groups to form a new government.

But Harouni said "certain parties want to deprive the winner of the legislative election" from heading the cabinet.

Tunisia's new parliament is expected to hold its first full session on Wednesday.

The legislative polls were held between the first and second round of Tunisia's presidential election which was won by political outsider Kais Saied, a conservative academic.