First Published: 2013-08-06

 

Ghannouchi: In democratic regimes, protests don't change governments

 

Ennahda chief says protests will not topple Tunisian government despite their call for dissolution of parliament.

 

Middle East Online

On the defensive

TUNIS - Tunisia's Islamist ruling party chief has said the government will not step down under pressure from the opposition, even as fresh protests to demand its ouster were being readied Tuesday.

Rached Ghannouchi's remarks, published by La Presse newspaper, will likely deepen a crisis that has gripped the North African nation since a political assassination in February was followed by another in last month.

A mixed bag of opposition parties, running from the extreme left to the centre-right, is planning a massive night-time protest in Tunis on Tuesday to mark six months since opposition politician Chokri Belaid was gunned down outside his home.

Government detractors say the Ennahda-led cabinet has failed to rein in radical Islamists blamed for Belaid's murder and the assassination of MP Mohamed Brahimi on July 25.

They are also calling for the dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly, which was due to gather from 0800 GMT Tuesday to discuss the crisis.

"There are excessive demands at protests for the dissolution of the elected government... In democratic regimes, protests don't change governments," Ghannouchi told La Presse.

"Unfortunately every time a tragedy hits us, we immediately call for the dissolution of the government and parliament," Ghannouchi added.

The Ennahda leader also dismissed critics who say authorities are being too soft on radical Islamists, who have grown in influence since the 2011 popular uprising that toppled strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

"There are 500 to 600 terrorist suspects imprisoned in jails," Ghannouchi said, without giving further details.

Tunisia has been rocked by anti-government protests since Brahmi's murder, and protesters have clashed with police who used tear gas to disperse them.

Authorities said Brahmi was murdered with the same gun used to kill Belaid.

On Sunday Prime Minister Ali Larayedh announced the first arrest of a suspect in the Belaid case.

Larayedh has also ruled out the government's resignation, offering instead to broaden the coalition and calling for a general election in December.

In an interview published by Belgian daily Le Soir on Monday, Ghannouchi also called for a referendum to give voters the chance to have their say in the standoff between the cabinet and protesters.

"Tunisians would pronounce on whether they support or oppose the process under way," he said.

As the political crisis festers, security forces are pressing their hunt for militants linked to Al-Qaeda holed up in the rugged Mount Chaambi region near the Algerian border.

Two soldiers killed when their armoured vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb on Sunday were buried after a memorial ceremony attended by both Larayedh and President Moncef Marzouki.

The military has been hunting the militants since December, and stepped up its offensive after eight soldiers were killed in an ambush on July 29.

 

Libya jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution

Images emerge of Manchester bomber as runners defy threat

Iran leader launches fierce attack on ‘milking cow’ Saudis

Jordan gearing up for another Ramadan with refugees

Syria girls escape war with Snow White

Egypt’s left-wing parties start searching for Sisi competitor

US urged to keep track of its Iraq arms supply

Qatar risks US sanctions over support for Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood

US-Turkish relations go from bad to worse

Egypt hits jihadists as IS claims deadly attack on Christians

Britain arrests two more in Manchester attack probe

Turkey charges opposition newspaper staff

Death toll in Tripoli clashes reaches 52

Hundreds of migrants rescued in major operation off Libya

Palestinians end mass hunger strike in Israel jails

Egypt Christians bury victims with tears, anger

Ramadan in Libya: little cash, much violence

UN braces for up to 200,000 Iraqis to flee Mosul

Iraq forces launch broad attack on IS holdouts in Mosul

Civilians flee IS-held Syria cities after deadly strikes

At least 28 dead in Tripoli clashes

UN says nations bombing IS must protect civilians

26 killed in attack on Egypt Christians

Turkey identifies 'intelligence weaknesses' before coup attempt

Tunisia opens trial over 2015 beach massacre

Syria army takes control of key road

US-led strikes kill 35 civilians in east Syria

Probe finds over 100 Mosul civilians killed in US air strike

Palestinian president says US should mediate hunger strike

Libya says working closely with Britain over concert attack

EU leaders, Erdogan meet in bid to ease tensions

Myanmar to deport Turkish family wanted for alleged coup links

Iran says it has built third underground missile factory

Trump gets rough ride in EU, NATO meeting

Saudi minister confident on oil output deal

Egyptians brace for austere Ramadan

Qatari FM says country victim of smear campaign, particularly in US

Britain probes jihadist network amid row with US intelligence

Egypt blocks several media websites including Jazeera

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester