TUNIS,Â Aug 12, 2013Â (AFP)
The ruling Islamist party Ennahda called forÂ ralliesÂ on TuesdayÂ to mark Tunisian women’s day, deepening the crisis with theÂ opposition which has also called for anti-government protests.
In a statement publishedÂ MondayÂ Ennahda urged its supporters to gather fromÂ 1500 GMT on Habib Bourguiba avenue, epicentre of the 2011 Arab Spring born inÂ Tunisia.
It said the rally would be held under the slogan: “Tunisia’s women, pillarsÂ of the democratic transition and national unity” in the North African countryÂ mired in crisis sparked by the murder in July of an opposition politician.
The slogan reflects the position of the Islamists who insist thatÂ ”transitional institutions” be kept in place in the absence of a consensus onÂ the country’s new constitution.
Last week National Constituent Assembly chief Mustapha Ben JaafarÂ announced the suspension of the assembly’s work drawing up a new constitutionÂ while Ennahda and the opposition work out their differences.
Critics of the government are calling for demonstrationsÂ on TuesdayÂ nightÂ to defend women’s rights followed by a march outside parliament, where theÂ opposition has held nightly demonstrations since the July 25 assassination ofÂ opposition MP Mohamed Brahmi.
Brahmi’s was the second political assassination this year, coming after theÂ February murder of Chokri Belaid, also in Tunis. Radical Salafists have beenÂ blamed for the attacks.
The opposition coalition, made up of parties from across the politicalÂ spectrum, has been calling for resignation of the government and theÂ dissolution of the assembly.
The opposition hopes for a huge turnoutÂ on Tuesday, similar to an August 6Â protest that drew tens of thousands of people demonstrating against theÂ government.
TuesdayÂ marks the anniversary of the promulgation of the Personal StatusÂ Code on August 13, 1956, which gave Tunisian women Â unequalled rights in theÂ Arab world at the time.
Tunisia’s ruling Islamists have regularly been accused of trying toÂ undermine these rights.
Ennahda’s critics have blamed the Islamists for the rise of theÂ ultra-conservative Salafist movement in the country since January 2011, whoseÂ violent actions are a threat to stability in the country.
As the political crisis rolls on, the head of Ennahda Rached Ghannouchi wasÂ due to meet the Houcine Abassi, chief of the powerful UGTT unionsÂ organisation.
The UGTT, which has some 500,000 members and can paralyse the country withÂ strike action, has also called for the resignation of the government and itsÂ replacement by a cabinet of technocrats.
Islamists have rejected their demands, and proposed a government includingÂ representatives of all political parties.
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