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Tunisian opposition promises more sit-ins to topple government - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Protesters demonstrate to call for the departure of the Islamist-led ruling coalition, outside the Constituent Assembly headquarters in Tunis September 7, 2013. (REUTERS/ Anis Mili)

Protesters demonstrate to call for the departure of the Islamist-led ruling coalition, outside the Constituent Assembly headquarters in Tunis September 7, 2013. (REUTERS/ Anis Mili)

Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat—Tunisia’s political opposition movement have threatened to intensify their protests in order “to force a solution to save the country,” according to a leading figure of the Salvation Front, the main opposition coalition.

Opposition figures announced preparations for a large scale Kasba-4 sit-in as part of their efforts. Kasba is a square in the Tunisian capital where three previous sit-ins took place.

The opposition, which comprises the Popular Front and the Union for Tunisia movements, are insisting on the resignation of the government before entering into new negotiations about the management of the country’s transitional period.

The announcement of the Kasba-4 sit-in coincides with the news of armed clashes in the western suburb of the capital on Sunday, between security forces and leaders of the military wing of the outlawed Ansar Al-Sharia organization.

60 representatives who resigned from the Tunisian Constituent Assembly are preparing to take part in the sit-in at the government square in Kasba, amid fears of intervention by security forces to break up the sit-in by force, as was the case last July with protesters who demanded the passage of the legislative general amnesty law.

Meanwhile, Hamma El Hammami, leading figure of the opposition Popular Front, told Asharq Al-Awsat that his party asked all opposition parties to widen the circle of sit-ins and organize protest marches condemning the government’s refusal to resign.

He added that serious consultations were taking place between opposition parties to announce an emergency national unity government, in place of the current Ennahda-led government. Hammami said he held the ruling tripartite coalition, especially the Ennahda movement, responsible for the failure of the dialogue process designed to reconcile the government and its opponents. He said the dialogue “was a waste of time and that they were hypocrites who only wanted to gain more time.”

In other developments, the Tunisian Interior Ministry confirmed reports of the killing of two suspected terrorists and the arrest of two others, who were all accused of smuggling arms and involvement in recent political assassinations. The ministry said the group was affiliated to the military wing of the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The Interior Ministry added on its website that El Adil El Saeedi and another unidentified man were killed in clashes west of the capital. A member of the anti-terrorism squad told the official Tunisian news agency, TAP, that two of the people involved in the clashes were accused of participation in the assassination of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, prominent opposition figures who were killed in the last few months, leading the opposition to accuse the government of doing little to clamp down on violence by religious extremists.

The ministry added that Mohamed Laaouadi, aka Taouil, and considered to be “one of the most dangerous terrorists in Tunisia and the leader of the military wing and second in command in the Ansar Sharia organization, led by Abou Ayyad,” was also arrested.

The ministry also said Mohamed Khiyari, aka Aous, allegedly affiliated to the outlawed Ansar Sharia group, was arrested and described him as “a dangerous terrorist who is involved in assassinations and smuggling arms into Tunisia,” adding that “the information about the armed group was received 10 days ago, and the security forces waited for the suitable moment to attack them.”