Anti-government protests hit Tunisia
Ten of thousands of Tunisians marched on Saturday to demand the resignation of the Islamist government.
In one of the largest opposition protests to date, the National Salvation Front coalition marked the 40-day mourning period since the assassination of opposition politician Mohammed Brahmi.
His killing in front of his family plunged the country into a political crisis and prompted dozens of opposition MPs to withdraw from parliament.
They announced on Friday that they would begin a hunger strike until their demands were met.
Weeks of mediation by the UGTT trade union federation between the Islamist Ennahda Party and the opposition have borne no fruit.
“We are determined to continue the struggle to extract the country from the disastrous situation it finds itself in,” said Nida Tunis party leader Beji Caid Essebsi.
“After the blood, Ennahda has no legitimacy,” chanted demonstrators.
“Leave! The dictator understood, but you still don’t understand,” marchers shouted, referring to flight of ex-president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
The opposition had called on the government to resign immediately over its failure to ensure security and manage the economy.
Ennahda has countered by offering to dissolve the government in four weeks to ensure the constitution is completed and an election agency is set up.
The competing demands have been relayed by a mediation team composed of the heads of UGTT, the chamber of commerce, the bar association and the league for human rights.
They also presented proposals of their own to resolve the crisis. But the talks had broken down by the end of last week.
The opposition has held several protests since Mr Brahmi’s killing but Saturday’s was the largest and opposition leader Samir Taieb said more would come until Ennahda stood down.
“Today we are embarking on a new stage in the struggle to impose the solution proposed by the UGTT, the chamber of commerce, the lawyers and the league for human rights,” he said.