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Tunisian premier calls for national unity - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A demonstrator holds up a flare during a protest to demand the ouster of the Islamist-dominated government, outside the Constituent Assembly headquarters in Tunis August 4, 2013. REUTERS/Anis Mili

A demonstrator holds up a flare during a protest to demand the ouster of the Islamist-dominated government, outside the Constituent Assembly headquarters in Tunis August 4, 2013. REUTERS/Anis Mili

Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat—Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh called for national unity and dialogue to resolve the ongoing political and security crisis in Tunisia on Saturday, defying calls to step down.

Laarayedh, speaking during a press conference, reiterated that the government would not heed calls from its opponents to dissolve the Constituent Assembly and form a government of national unity, adding that “without [the parliament], the country would go to the unknown.” He said the maximum time allowed for the assembly to complete its work was 23 October.

In response to a question on calls for the resignation of the Ennahda-led government, Laarayedh said there was a psychological war waged on Tunisians to exploit ongoing tensions. He also denied local media reports regarding the planting of bombs in shopping centers and the old town in the capital Tunis.

The prime minister said the Tunisian people as a whole were concerned with terrorism and that the government was going ahead with rigorously implementing the law all over the country, against all kinds of lawlessness, which represent a “flagrant violation of the law.”

Laarayedh said more than 60 figures from political parties, organizations, and associations attended a meeting with the government on Saturday, which was dedicated to terrorism, adding that ministers of interior, defense, justice, foreign affairs and religious affairs also attended.

Laarayedh said terrorism was a real danger which should be confronted by a united front of military, security and judicial institutions, and by avoiding political divisions. He said ways of fighting terrorism required the formulation of an integrated strategy to defeat it.

Meanwhile, French news agency AFP reported that tens of thousands of Tunisians marched in support of the government as opposition protesters renewed calls for the Islamist government to resign.

The ruling Ennahda party said 200,000 people turned out for the mass rally in Kasbah square in the capital Tunis, although police released no figures and AFP reporters on the scene estimated the total was in the tens of thousands.