TUNIS: Tunisia’s ruling coalition yesterday presented mediators with a proposed compromise to end a crisis sparked by a political assassination last month, while refusing opposition demands that it resign immediately.
Mediators have been shuttling between the Islamist-led government and the opposition in a bid to end the political turmoil caused by the killing of opposition MP Mohamed Brahmi on July 25, an attack blamed on Salafists.
“We have presented the position of the three-party coalition to find a way out of the crisis,” said Mouldi Riahi, a member of coalition party Ettakatol after the meeting with the mediators.
“We have presented a proposal according to which the government is ready to resign, but that must be accompanied by a comprehensive package,” added the representative of the coalition, which also groups Islamist party Ennahda and Congress for the Republic.
“For the current government, it is necessary to agree on the circumstances of its resignation,” said Riahi, who called on the national assembly to resume its work, which has been paralysed by the crisis.
He refused to give further details of the coalition’s new attempt to break the deadlock.
But Tunisian radio stations Mosaique and Shems FM both said, citing anonymous sources, that the proposals envisaged a change of government by September 29 at the latest, after a month of national dialogue on the new cabinet and the future constitution.
The mediators, who comprise the powerful UGTT trade union, employers’ organisation UTICA, the Tunisian League for Human Rights and the national order of lawyers, will present the coalition’s latest proposals to the opposition today.
Umbrella opposition group the National Salvation Front has repeatedly demanded the dissolution of the Islamist-led government, and is refusing to negotiate directly before a non-partisan cabinet has been formed.
“Concessions must still be made by both sides,” said the UGTT’s secretary general Houcine Abassi, after yesterday’s talks.
Ennahda finally said last week that it would accept the resignation of Prime Minister Ali Larayedh’s cabinet, a step the mediators also favour.
But it insisted agreement must first be reached on outstanding political differences, including an elections timetable and the contents of a new constitution, whose drafting has for months been blocked by political wranglings.
The opposition coalition has announced a new protest in the capital on Saturday in the form of a human chain stretching several kilometres from parliament to the Kasbah, where the government headquarters are located.
Last Saturday, the NSF launched what it called the “week of departure,” a week-long campaign of protests aimed at bringing down the government, starting with a mass rally outside parliament.
But the demonstration attracted fewer people than two similar protests held earlier this month — 10,000 according to police estimates — and the planned week-long campaign failed to mobilise the kind of Egyptian mass protests that preceded the army’s ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Mursi on July 3.
The opposition accuses Ennahda of failing to rein in Tunisia’s jihadist movement, which is blamed for murdering Brahimi and opposition MP Chokri Belaid, another prominent secular politician whose assassination in February brought down the first Islamist-led coalition.
Ennahda has also been accused of mismanaging the economy and failing to improve living standards, with Egypt’s Mursi facing similar criticism from protesters ahead of the military coup.