PM calls election for 17th December
Following the worsening security situation in Tunisia, the assassination of another prominent left wing opposition leader, the resignation of another Minister and the walkout of 65 parliamentarians Prime Minister Ali Larayedh finally conceded last night and called an election for 17th December.
Last Thursday prominent opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi was assassinated with a reported 14 bullets as he left his home. This follows the murder of another left-wing opposition legislator, Chokri Belaid, in February and has fuelled theories that the Islamist Ennahda led government is trying to silence the opposition and impose an Islamist state.
The result was a mass demonstration over the weekend which saw more than 25,000 people assembled at the funeral of the opposition leader. That was followed on Monday by the resignation of Minister of Education Salem Labyadh and then the withdrawal of 65 members of the 217 seat National Constituent Assembly (NCA) whilst calling for the dissolution of the parliament and government.
Meanwhile eight soldiers have been killed in an ambush on Mount Chaambi near the Algerian border in what President Marzouki described on Monday as a “terrorist attack”.
The 65 withdrawn NCA members have formed what they call a National Salvation Front and want to establish a temporary salvation government. But Prime Minister Ali Larayedh was having none of that and said that the government would continue until the elections were held. He also laid out a timescale for a new constitution to be drafted by the end of August, new election laws by 23rd October and the election on 17th December.
The date of the election has particular significance because it is the third anniversary of the self-immolation of fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in the town of Sidi Bouzid which led to the downfall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the start of the so called Arab Spring.