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Photo: Tim Baster
The UGTT, Tunisia’s largest trade union went on general strike on Friday to protest at the assassination of Mohamed Brahmi, a deputy in the National Constituent Assembly. The national newspaper ‘La Presse de Tunisie’ reported demonstrations in most large cities; one demonstrator died.
Brahmi was the leader of his party, the Movement of the People, up until July, when he split from it to form another party. Movement of the People is affiliated to the Popular Front, the left wing coalition which opposes the religious Ennahda government.
On the same day, interior minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou said in a press conference that Brahmi was hit by 14 bullets in front of his home the previous day. The weapon was the same used in the assassination of Chokri Belaid, another left winger murdered on 6 February. The minister accused a Salafist group of the crime. No arrests have been made for either assassination.
But demonstrators did not accept the minister’s version of events. At the National Constituent Assembly building, a crowd gathered shouting: ‘Civil disobedience’ and ‘Assassin Ghannouchi’ (the political leader of Ennahda).
One demonstrator explained their demands: ‘resignation of the National Constituent Assembly, an end to manipulation, and a government of national safety.’ These are similar to the demands of the Popular Front and those of the Tunisian ‘Tamarod’ (rebellion) movement, which takes its name from the Egyptian movement that preceded the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Morsi by the army on 3 July.
Photo: Tim Baster
On Saturday a large crowd accompanied the body of Mohamed Brahmi to the Jellaz cemetery where only five months before Tunisians had buried another Popular Front leader, Chokri Belaid. The crowd chanted: ‘After the bloodbath this government has no more legitimacy.’
Later, in front of the National Assembly building, pro-Ennahda demonstrators fought with demonstrators from the Popular Front.
Tunisia’s religious Ennadha government is a provisional one elected in October 2011 with a timetable to deliver a new constitution and fresh elections by the end of 2012. The constitution is still in draft and the elections have not been held.
Tunisian youth and poor communities are facing the same enormous economic and social difficulties they faced prior to the revolution, but the government appears unwilling to deliver the social and economic demands of Tunisia’s 2011 revolution. At the same time, it is accused of stalling the political process to entrench itself in power before any elections.