Rashid Ghannouchi has urged Tunisia's political parties to "prioritise reason and compromise" as the first formal talks of the "national dialogue" got underway on Wednesday. The talks coincide with the second anniversary of the country's first democratic elections.
"For the sake of the national interest," said the leader of Al-Nahda Party, "give priority to the language of reason and mutual compromise. Do not give an opportunity to predators at home and abroad who wish to abolish our democratic experience."
Tunisia's democratic transitional phase suffered a serious setback with a suffocating political crisis following the assassination of opposition leaders Shukri Belaïd in February and Mohammad Brahmi in July. The parties are seeking to avoid the worst case scenario by reaching consensus on a "road map" prepared by national organisations to guide the country forward under an independent, non-partisan technocrat government.
Thousands of opposition supporters are expected to march today to demand the implementation of the road map and signal the end of the electoral legitimacy of the current government, which was predetermined at one year after the elections of October 23rd 2011. Supporters of the government are also expected to take to the streets to commemorate the ousting of the dictator Zine El-Abidin Ben Ali.