|Beji Caid Essebsi|
Over the weekend the Party's Executive was scheduled to meet in the resort town of Hammamet, but a worsening factional split led to a physical brawl between conservative and liberal factions of the party as some leaders were denied entry and supporters of rival factions fought each other with clubs, causing damage to the five-star hotel where the meetings were to be held. See stories here and here.
The more conservative faction, with links to the former regime and the business elites, centers around the President's son, Hafedh Caid Essebsi, who has emerged only in the past year or so as a leader. The liberal faction, around Party General Secretary Mohsen Marzouk, claim the President is seeking to arrange for a dynastic succession for his son as head of the Party, evoking the nepotism of the Bourguiba and Ben Ali eras. The Essebsi faction accuses Marzouk of Presidential ambitions.
An attempt by the President to bring the factions together at the Carthage Presidential Palace failed when many deputies refused to attend The liberal faction claims about 35 deputies are ready to leave the party, which would deprive it of it status as the largest party bloc. Meanwhile they claimed Hafedh Essebsi is cultivating alliances with Ennahda, which is also part of the loose ruling coalition.