TUNIS,Â Aug 13, 2013Â (AFP)
Supporters of Tunisia’s Islamist-led governmentÂ ralliedÂ TuesdayÂ to mark national women’s day ahead of an opposition protest,Â as the president proposed a national unity cabinet to end a protracted crisis.
The government, led by the Islamist Ennahda party, and its detractors haveÂ been locked in a bitter feud sparked by the July assassination of anÂ opposition politician, the second such killing this year.
The opposition accuses radical Salafists of the murders and blames theÂ government for failing to rein in the jihadists. whose influence has risenÂ since the Arab Spring uprising toppled the former regime in 2011.
Hundreds of people responded to calls by the government and gathered in theÂ capital’s central Habib Bourguiba Avenue, epicentre of the popular revolt.
The crowd, mostly women, pledged allegiance to Ennahda, which had said theÂ rally would pay tribute to Tunisian women as “pillars of the democraticÂ transition and national unity”.
“The people still want Ennahda,” protesters chanted. “We will sacrifice ourÂ blood and our soul for the sake of legitimacy,” they said in reference to theÂ October 2011 election won by Ennahda.
The opposition, which has accused Ennahda of flouting the rights of women,Â has called a rival rally from 1700 GMT to be attended by members of theÂ powerful UGTT trade union and a number of women’s groups.
Ennahda’s secular ally, President Moncef Marzouki, called for a governmentÂ of “national unity” to end the political standoff that has gripped the countryÂ since the July 25 murder of Mohamed Brahmi.
“There must be a government of national unity in which all politicalÂ parties are represented,” Marzouki, whose role is highly symbolic, toldÂ Shems-FM radio.
He was echoing Ennahda positions that reject forming of a government ofÂ technocrats as demanded by the opposition and the powerful UGTT.
His comments come after more than four hours of talks overnight betweenÂ Ennahda party chief Rached Ghannouchi with UGTT leader Houcine Abbassi in aÂ bid to ease the crisis.
Their discussions failed to achieve any concrete results but more talks areÂ to be held later this week.
The 500,000-strong UGTT has been touted as a possible mediator between theÂ government and the opposition — although it does not back the latter’s callÂ for the dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly.
In his radio comments, Marzouki also called on the assembly, whichÂ suspended its work over the crisis, to resume drafting a much-delayedÂ constitution.
The government of Prime Minister Ali Larayedh refuses to resign, offeringÂ instead to broaden the ruling coalition, and has called for general electionsÂ in December.
Larayedh told Shems-FMÂ Tuesday: “We hope that… by the end of the week weÂ will reach consensual solutions.”
After their demonstration, opposition protesters are due to rally outsideÂ parliament, as they have done nightly since the assassination of Brahmi, whoÂ has been buried next to another slain politician, Chokri Belaid.
Authorities have said the same gun was used to kill Brahmi and Belaid inÂ February, and accused jihadists of carrying out the two assassinations.
Women’s day celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of the PersonalÂ Status Code on August 13, 1956, which gave women rights unequalled in the ArabÂ world at the time.
Government critics say Ennahda has been too passive in dealing with radicalÂ imams who have called for the return of polygamy and child brides — practicesÂ banned in 1956.
The party drew further criticism last year when it called for sexualÂ equality to be replaced in Tunisia’s new post-revolution constitution byÂ ”complementarity” of the genders.
Amel Radhouani, from the Femmes Libres (Free Women) group said Tuesday’sÂ march would send a clear message to the Islamists in power.
“This will not be a celebration but a march against terrorism, andÂ Ennahda’s attempts to take back women’s gains.”
UGTT official Najoua Makhlouf called the protest historic because it comesÂ a time of “political killings, terrorism and attempts to roll back women’sÂ rights.”
Elsewhere the interior ministry said “terrorists” attacked a TunisianÂ border post near the frontier with Algeria overnight. It did not elaborate.
The army has been hunting Al-Qaeda-linked militants near the border sinceÂ December and stepped up operations after the bodies of eight soldiers wereÂ found with their throats slit on July 29.
Click here to read the article from its source.
Powered by WPeMatico