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Tunisia: Government and opposition talk to defuse crisis - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Tunisian Prime minister Ali Larayedh (R) meets for an emergency meeting in Tunis on August 1, 2013 with Houcine Abbassi (L), Secretary General of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), who has been calling for the resignation of the government following the assassination of opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi. (AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID.)

Tunisian prime minister Ali Laarayedh (R) meets for an emergency meeting in Tunis on August 1, 2013, with Hassine Abassi (L), the secretary-general of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT), who has been calling for the resignation of the government following the assassination of opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi. (AFP PHOTO/FETHI BELAID.)

Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Tunisian government held discussions with opposition and civil society figures on Thursday in a bid to seek a solution for the political and security crisis that engulfed the country in the wake of last week’s assassination of the secularist opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi.

Center-left president Moncef Marzouki and figures from the Islamist-dominated government met with figures from the Republican Party, who called for the formation of a “national salvation government” to be led by an independent figure.

“The rescue of Tunisia requires a national salvation government that is led by an agreed upon independent figure with members who commit themselves not to stand for the next elections and implement a program to combat terrorism and political violence,” the party’s secretary-general, Maya Jribi, was quoted as saying to Agence France-Presse.

In a related development, Tunisian prime minister Ali Laarayedh met with Hassine Abassi, the secretary-general of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) on Thursday.

“(We) will continue to hold talks and if our demands of changing the government and implementing a time frame for the Constituent Assembly, then we will have other options that we will be forced to consider,” the UGTT’s deputy leader, Bou Ali Mbarki, told local Nesma TV.

In separate news, the remaining members of the Constituent Assembly held a consultative session in the presence of media outlets to discuss the situation in the country. The session came after Mustapha Ben Jafar, the speaker of the assembly, ordered the suspension of the country’s parliamentary body on Thursday.

The session was attended by MPs belonging to the Ennahda Movement, the Congress for the Republic Party (CPR), the Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties (FDTL), and the Wafa Movement of Tunisia. Seventy-three MPs, almost one third of the parliament, were absent.

The MPs who resigned belonged to a group of opposition parties known as the “Democratic Bloc,” whose members demanded that the Ennahda-led government resign calling for immediate civil disobedience across the country.

When asked about the fate of the Constituent Assembly, Kalthoum Badreddine, the chairwoman of the committee of general legislation, confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the current members of the assembly would like to resume the activities of the assembly.

She added that the assembly can resume its activities even if the resigned members do not return, given that the remaining 109 members make up the quorum.

Badreddine told Asharq Al-Awsat that the government is in touch with the resigned MPs, particularly the ones who object to demands to dissolve the assembly. She said they are welcome to return and discuss all of the divisive points.

Regarding the situation on the ground, chief of security forces Fadel Sayhi told Asharq Al-Awsat that aircraft and artillery pieces have been deployed in the mountainous area of Chaambi to fight terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda after unknown assailants killed eight Tunisian troops in an ambush earlier this week.