Friday, February 8, 2013

The assassination of a secular opposition leader is forcing an Islamist-led government to give ground. But how much?

    Friday, February 08, 2013   No comments

THE Islamist-led government that has been running Tunisia for the past year has been badly shaken by the assassination on February 6th of a prominent secular-minded opposition leader, Chokri Belaid, who was shot dead outside his house in Tunis by assailants so far unknown. After a wave of angry protests erupted in the capital and across the country, the prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, who is also secretary-general of the Islamist Nahda party, condemned the murder as an “act of terrorism…against the whole of Tunisia” and said he would form a new government “of competent figures without party affiliations”. The event has sparked Tunisia’s worst crisis since the revolution that toppled the country’s long-serving, secular-minded dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled into exile in January 2011.

It was unclear if Mr Jebali’s hasty reaction meant that Nahda, which handsomely won an election to a constituent assembly in October, 2011, would actually cede power or whether there would merely be a government reshuffle; it already heads a three-party coalition that includes non-Islamists. Mr Jebali has urged the constituent assembly to hurry up and finish the writing of a new constitution so that there can be a fresh election to a proper parliament as soon as possible, perhaps by the end of June.

Ed Isr

About Ed Isr

Islamic Societies Review Editors

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