- Title: TUNISIA: Opposition rallies to street, pressures government over crisis
- Date: 8th September 2013
- Summary: TUNIS, TUNISIA (SEPTEMBER, 7TH, 2013) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS WAVING TUNISIAN FLAGS VARIOUS OF DAUGHTER OF ASSASSINATED POLITICIAN MOHAMED BRAHMI, SHOUTING (Arabic) "RESIGNATION, RESIGNATION" VARIOUS OF WIDOW OF ASSASSINATED POLITICIAN CHOKRI BELAID, BASMA BELAID, TALKING TO PROTESTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) WIDOW OF ASSASSINATED POLITICIAN CHOKRI BELAID, BASMA BELAID, SAYING: "We're convinced it's not possible to know who killed Mohamed Brahmi and who killed Chokri Belaid under this current government." PROTESTERS WAVING FLAGS, WALKING THROUGH STREET VARIOUS OF A GIRL SHOUTING, HOLDING TUNISIAN FLAG VARIOUS OF FLAGS BEING WAVED BY PROTESTERS VARIOUS OF PROTESTER, JOUINI EZZEDINE, HOLDING DYED RED HANDS IN AIR (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PROTESTER, JOUINI EZZEDINE, SAYING: "This is a metaphor for the current government, one of assassinations and blood - that's why I've dyed my hands red. This is not a legitimate government, this is assassinations, explosions and terrorism." PROTESTER WAVING CUBAN FLAG WITH PICTURE OF CHE GUEVARA MAN SHOUTING INTO MICROPHONE, TUNISIAN FLAG BEING WAVED VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS WALKING THROUGH STREETS BELAID AND FRENCH LEFT WING POLITICIAN AND 2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CANDIDATE, JEAN-LUC MELENCHON, WALKING WITH PROTESTERS BELAID AND WIDOW OF MOHAMED BRAHMI, MBARKA BRAHMI, SHOUTING, CHEERING PROTEST BANNER, READING (Arabic): "LEAVE" WOMEN HOLDING BANNER WALKING BENEATH MINARET VARIOUS OF TAXI DRIVER AND PROTESTER, HICHEM GHARBI, HOLDING A CHAIR CALLED "THE POWER IS FOR THE PEOPLE" (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) TAXI DRIVER AND PROTESTER, HICHEM GHARBI, SAYING: "I can't love Tunisia by myself - it's for everyone. This chair is ours; we who decide who can get on it. Don't forget that 'chairs' are temporary - only actions last." YOUNG GIRL HOLDING TUNISIAN FLAG, SITTING ON FATHER'S SHOULDERS VARIOUS OF DEMONSTRATORS IN BARDO SQUARE WAVING TUNISIAN FLAGS, SINGING TUNISIAN NATIONAL ANTHEM BRAHMI, DAUGHTER AND DAUGHTER OF MOHAMED BELAID SINGING NATIONAL ANTHEM (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PRESIDENT OF NIDA TOUNES OPPOSITION PARTY AND FORMER TUNISIAN PRIME MINISTER, BEJI CAID ESSEBSI, SAYING: "We will rediscover peace only once we unveil those who killed the leaders and the martyrs, and who asked for, planned and gave orders. Fear not - we will win, and our victory will bring the truth." VARIOUS OF DAUGHTERS OF BRAHMI AND BELAID HOLDING PICTURES OF THEIR FATHERS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) WIDOW OF MOHAMED BRAHMI, MBARKA BRAHMI, SAYING: "Just as you killed the martyr of the people, Mohamed Brahmi, in the arms of his daughters and his son, we will assassinate you with our civilised and civic way, that will kill you vein after vein." POLITICIANS SINGING TUNISIAN NATIONAL ANTHEM (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) TUNISIAN PEOPLE'S PARTY LEADER, HAMMA HAMMAMI, SAYING: "As I said, people must spend the whole night here. Tonight the hunger strike begins, while on Monday the sit-in of Kasbah starts." PROTESTERS WAVING TUNISIAN FLAGS
- Embargoed: 23rd September 2013 13:00
- Location: Tunisia
- Country: Tunisia
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA5J5LC0WQ8NEMJ6C1XLWZR2KTU
- Story Text: Tens of thousands of Tunisians took to the streets on Saturday (September 7) to renew their demands that the Islamist-led government step down and end a political deadlock threatening the North African country's fledgling democracy.
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 slain 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.
The widow of Chokri Belaid, another Tunisian politician shot dead earlier in the year, said she expected no answers under the regime the protest was aimed at.
"We're convinced it's not possible to know who killed Mohamed Brahmi and who killed Chokri Belaid under this current government," Basma Belaid told Reuters Television.
Divisions between Tunisia's Islamists and their secular 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 moderate Islamist Ennahda party sharing power with smaller secular 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 radical Islamists.
Protester Jouini Ezzedine held his hands in the air as he joined in choruses of anti-government chants, wearing plastic gloves dyed red to resemble what he said were the blood stained hands of the Tunisian regime.
"This is a metaphor for the current government, one of assassinations and blood - that's why I've dyed my hands red," he said.
"This is not a legitimate government, this is assassinations, explosions and terrorism," he added.
Another protester, taxi driver Hichem Gharbi, brought a chair to the demonstration, emblazoned with the phrase "The power is for the people", playing on the double meaning of the words "chair" and "position" in Arabic.
"I can't love Tunisia by myself - it's for everyone," he said.
"This chair is ours; we who decide who can get on it. Don't forget that 'chairs' are temporary - only actions last," he told Reuters Television.
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 the July opposition leader's assassination, throwing the country's transition plan for a caretaker cabinet and elections off track.
As daylight turned to dusk, the political leaders of the opposition took to the stage in Bardo Square, waving flags and singing the national anthem.
Former Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi led protesters as he assured them their cause would be the victorious one in the end.
"We will rediscover peace only once we unveil those who killed the leaders and the martyrs, and who asked for, planned and gave orders," he told crowds.
"Fear not - we will win, and our victory will bring the truth," he added.
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.
Plans to stage a hunger strike were on the way on Saturday evening, while a sit-in at Kasbah Square was also due to take place on Monday (September 9), Hamma Hammami, a senior leader in a coalition of over a dozen secular opposition parties, told crowds.
While the Egyptian army's overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July following mass protests against him has further emboldened the anti-Islamist opposition in Tunisia, it is unlikely to follow Egypt's path.
With its strong links to Europe and a non-political military staying out of the fray, most analysts see Tunisia weathering its current crisis to hold elections despite disagreements over how and when the poll will happen.
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