Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Tunisia's leader refuses to step down

30 July 2013, 14:59

Tunisia - In a defiant speech, Tunisia's prime minister rejected opposition demands that his government step down and promised on Monday to complete the country's democratic transition with a new constitution by August and elections in December.

The assassination of two opposition legislators over the last six months has plunged Tunisia - the birthplace of the Arab Spring - into a crisis with anti-government protests, the resignation of a Cabinet minister, and a walkout by dozens of lawmakers.

The standoff was given extra urgency by a bloody ambush that took place on Monday in a mountainous region near the Algerian border known as a hideout for Islamic militants that left at least 9 soldiers dead, according to a local hospital.

Prime Minister Ali Larayedh's fiery speech, in which he called those wanting to dissolve the government "anarchists" and "opportunists", is unlikely to appease an angry opposition that says the Islamist-led government has failed to carry out the political transition promised after the overthrow of Tunisia's dictator in January 2011.

With many of the countries that saw pro-democracy uprisings during the Arab Spring heading toward chaos or renewed authoritarianism, Tunisia was considered the best hope for democracy in the region - until its current crisis.


On Thursday, left-wing Tunisian politician Mohammed Brahmi was assassinated in Tunis, shot 14 times outside his home in front of his family. That followed the killing of another left-wing opposition legislator, Chokri Belaid, in February.

On Sunday night, thousands of people demonstrated in front of the elected assembly charged with writing the country's new constitution and demanded that it be dissolved along with the government.

Dozens of opposition lawmakers have suspended their participation in the assembly, and Education Minister Salem Labiadh submitted his resignation on Monday.

Even more serious for the government, the governing coalition appears to be breaking apart.

Mohammed Bennour, spokesperson for the left-of-centre Ettakatol (Forum) Party, said his group wants to withdraw from the coalition and dissolve the government. 

That would leave the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party that dominates the coalition even more isolated.

But Larayedh struck a defiant note in his speech, maintaining that the "dissolution of the assembly and the government would not help the situation or gain us time".

In his televised speech, he presented a road map for completing the long drawn out democratic transition with a new constitution by the end of August and the passage of the needed election laws by 23 October.

He said an election for a new legislative body would be held on 17 December, the third anniversary of the self-immolation of itinerant fruit seller Mohammed Bouazizi that sparked the uprising that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali a month later.

The constitutional assembly was supposed to write a constitution and hold new elections within a year. Instead the transition has dragged on for nearly two years as the country has been beset by social unrest, a faltering economy and terrorist attacks.


Larayedh promised to hold "free and fair elections under international supervision" and said the government is open to any dialogue and proposals to complete the transition. He said he is even open to a Cabinet reshuffle.

"Dialogue should not be in the streets or through violence but at the table and about strategies and plans," he said.

Larayedh maintained, however, that those calling for dissolving the assembly and government were small groups, and he threatened to mobilise government supporters against them to preserve public order.

On Sunday night, thousands of government supporters did come out to confront those protesting in front of the assembly and police had to separate them.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Mohammed Ali Aroui said on Monday that security forces committed some abuses while dispersing protesters with tear gas early on Monday.

But he defended their efforts to avoid what he called a "blood bath" between the rival demonstrations.

There also have been anti-government protests in several cities in the interior of Tunisia since Thursday's assassination.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Dating that one person that socie...

Works at a massage parlour. Works at Millionaires Club (that one on Baricho road) - you know the ones I am talking about. Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
What do men mean when they say th...

As much as men think they are the ones confused by relationships, they have a better idea of it than most women actually do. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Ruto urges African leaders to shu...

DP William Ruto has called on African nations to shun help from western forces, saying that they can solve their own problems. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Don't be corrupt like your elders...

Shun corruption at all costs, President Uhuru Kenyatta urges Kenyan youth. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Senators order PS to resign over ...

The Senate Health Committee has told Health PS Nicholas Muraguri to resign over the unaccounted for KES 5 billion. Read more...