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TENS OF THOUSANDS RALLY IN TUNIS TO SUPPORT ENNAHDHA

Muslim World

Tens of thousands of supporters of Tunisia’s Ennahdha-led government marched in the capital on 16 February, one of the biggest in a series of pro-government and opposition rallies sparked by the killing of a leftist leader Chokri Belaid. Protesters, many waving party flags and some holding black Salafist banners, thronged Habib Bourguiba Avenue, a Tunis boulevard that was the cradle of the 2011 uprising that ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. They carried banners reading: “We are loyal to the blood of the martyrs” and “The people want Ennahdha again”.

The 6 February killing of Belaid has thrown Tunisia into political turmoil two years after it staged the first of the Arab Spring revolts. Violent protests swept Tunisia after the assassination, with anti-Islam forces attacking offices of the ruling party Ennahdha in Tunis and elsewhere. Lotfi Hidouri, a spokesman in the Interior Ministry, said that more than 100,000 took part in Saturday’s rally. After Belaid’s death, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali promised to form a non-partisan, technocratic cabinet to run the country until an election could take place.

Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi has rejected Jebali’s proposal for a technocrat government but said it was essential that Islamists and secular parties shared power now and in the future. “Any stable rule in Tunisia needs a moderate Islamist-secular coalition,” he was cited as saying on 12 February. In a speech to his supporters on 16 February, Ghannouchi said that the exclusion of Ennahdha from government would threaten the national unity. “Ennahdha will not leave power as long as people want it,” he said.

 



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