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Tunisia: Thousands Of Protesters Demand Resignation Of Islamist Led Government

By Countercurrents.org

25 August ,2013

Thousands of anti-government protesters marched in Tunisia’s capital Tunis on August 24 for the first day of a planned week-long campaign to pressure the country’s ruling Islamist party Ennahda to step down from power. At the same time, opposition members have rejected dialogue with Tunisia’s ruling Ennahdha party, saying the current government must resign before any negotiations begin.

Media reports from Tunisia said:

The protesting people headed to the National Constituent Assembly (NCA), where activists and opposition MPs have gathered regularly since the July 25 assassination of secular politician Mohamed Brahmi, demanding the departure of the government led by the Islamist party.

“The people want the fall of the regime,” “Get out!” and “(Ennahda leader) Ghannouchi assassin,” were a few of the slogans chanted by the protesters.

More than an hour after the start of the protest the numbers continued to grow.

The opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) is hoping the demonstration will trigger a week of protests across the country that will force Ennahda’s resignation and lead to the formation of a non-partisan administration.

Tunisia’s powerful trade union UGTT is trying to mediate between the opposition and the ruling Islamists and find a way out of the crisis.
The talks have made little progress since they began at the start of the month, with the NSF insisting on that any negotiations prior to the government’s resignation were a “waste of time.”

The opposition accuses Ennahda of failing to rein in the country’s hardline Islamist movement, which is blamed for murdering Brahmi and Chokri Belaid, another prominent secular politician whose assassination in February brought down the first Ennahda-led coalition.

“I am here today because Ennahdha stole what we dreamed of,” said protester Nazlia Sergani, referring to the ruling party. “They speak about a coup. They are the ones who carried out the coup by not finishing constitution in a year as agreed.”

72 year old protester Hadj Ali, a retired engineer expressed his dissatisfaction with the current government. “Tunisia used to be an example of moderation and justice. We are Muslims and we don’t need anyone to teach us this,” he said. “We have never had killings before, only during colonization.”

“I am here because they want to oppress women,” he added.

The rally begins a planned week of protests that organizers are calling “Rahil,” meaning “departure.” The initiative was announced by Popular Front opposition politician Hama Hamami on August 13.

Opposition parties Nidaa Tounes and al-Massar and the Popular Front coalition are participating. They are members of an anti-government coalition called the National Salvation Front, which has demanded the replacement of the NCA and the current government with a temporary non-partisan technocratic government that would finalize drafting the constitution and arrange new elections.

The National Salvation Front was formed after the assassination of opposition NCA member Mohamed Brahmi on July 25. A number of opposition assembly members withdrew from the NCA that time and advocated for its dissolution.
Tunisia’s political process has been frozen since then, as the assembly has not held an official plenary session since Brahmi’s death.

Opposition parties formally refuse to engage in dialogue with the ruling Ennahdha party until opposition demands for dissolving the government and NCA are accepted.

The UGTT labor union is currently serving as a means of communication between Ennahdha and the opposition, as union head Houcine Abbassi has met several times with Ghannouchi and is relaying Ennahdha proposals to opposition members.

The UGTT has called to dissolve the current government while maintaining the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) under the supervision of a committee of constitutional experts.

A Reuters report said:

“Any negotiation without the immediate dissolution of the government would be a waste of time,” Taieb Baccouche, secretary general of the opposition Nidaa Tounes party told.

Withdrawn NCA members met with UGTT head Houcine Abbassi on August 23 as part of the union leader’s ongoing effort to mediate between sides.

Abbassi later met with Ennahdha president Rached Ghannouchi, according to party spokesperson Yusra Ghannouchi.








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