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Tunisian government rejects demand to step down

Tunisian Supporters of Al-NahdaTunisia's Al-Nahda Party has rejected a demand by the secularist opposition to step down from government until the upcoming elections have taken place. The demand was made after the second assassination of an opposition figure in July. Since then Tunisia's secularist and liberals have been calling on the Islamist government to stand down despite being elected by a democratic majority.

Tunis was the first Arab country to witness a popular revolution that brought the autocratic reign of the previous president to an end. Calls for the government to resign were made when opposition leader Shokri Bal'eed was assassinated in February. They were renewed with the killing of Mohamed al-Brahmi.

In an attempt to mediate, the Tunisian General Workers' Union (UGTT) has put pressure on both sides to accept a plan which would see the Islamists resigning within three weeks of the start of talks, having set a certain date for the elections and overseen the formation of a caretaker government.

Al-Nahda refused to accept the plan because it said that there were no guarantees for the elections to take place on the date set out by the current government. A senior official in the movement, Rafiq Abdul-Salam, told journalists that the government would not step down until and unless the Constitutional Assembly finishes rafting the proposed Constitution.

Al-Nahda Party emerged as the largest and most popular of the political parties in Tunisia after the ouster of Zeinul-Abideen Bin-Ali, despite having been oppressed by successive regimes for almost 50 years.


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