Tunisians stage anti-government rally

Tunisians stage anti-government rally
Sun Sep 8, 2013 13:30:54

Tens of thousands of Tunisians have staged protest rally in Tunis to call on Ennahda ruling party to resign from power.

On Saturday, It was the largest protest since Tunisia's crisis erupted over the killing of an opposition leader in July, increasing pressure on the ruling Ennahda party to make way for a caretaker government before proposed elections.

Waving red and white national flags and pictures of murdered opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi, protesters packed streets around a building where a national assembly had been drafting a new constitution until its work was suspended due to unrest.

"It's over for them, they should leave," said sports teacher Houssem Ben Hassen at the rally, wrapped in a Tunisian flag. "We need a government for all Tunisians."

Divisions between Tunisia's parties and their opponents have widened since the uprising that ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, a revolt that triggered unrest across the Arab world and toppled rulers in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Tunisia's transition since that revolt has been relatively peaceful, with the Ennahda party sharing power with smaller parties.
But tensions have increased in the nation of 11 million since Brahmi was killed in July, just months after another secular opposition figure was murdered by gunmen who authorities say were tied to radicals.

Drawn-out wrangling over political control, elections and a new constitution now threatens transition and economic growth in a country once seen as the most promising example for the region's nascent democracies following the Arab spring.

The head of the constituent assembly, about to finish drafting the new constitution, halted its work after Brahmi's assassination, throwing the country's transition plan for a caretaker cabinet and elections off track.

Facing a vote analysts say it may lose, Ennahda has said it is willing to step down, but asked for at least a month to allow the national assembly to finish writing the constitution and to negotiate over the composition of the caretaker government.

After talks failed to end the standoff this week, Tunisia's opposition Salvation Front – a mix of leftists and traditional parties including leaders who once served under Ben Ali – threatened to intensify protests against Ennahda.


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