Thousands of Tunisians called for the collapse of the government today as they buried opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi, whose assassination triggered a new political crisis in the Arab Spring uprisings’ birthplace.
Brahmi, secretary-general of the nationalist People’s Movement party, was buried at the Jalaz cemetery. He was laid to rest close to the grave of Chukri Beleid, who was assassinated in February in a killing that brought down Islamist Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali. Both politicians were shot using the same weapon, the Interior Ministry said yesterday.
The disclosure the same weapon was used added to the opposition’s anger against the moderate Islamist government, which critics say has failed to bring under control hardline Islamists looking to move Tunisia away from secular traditions.
Brahmi’s supporters chanted “Down with the party of the Muslim Brotherhood,” a reference to the ruling Ennahda Party that’s linked to the Islamist organization. They also revived calls that helped drive autocratic President Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali from power in 2011: “The people want to bring down the regime.”
Adding to the sense of disquiet in the country, a bomb exploded under a car early today outside a National Guard center in the capital, Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Laroui said by phone. The explosion did not result in injures.
Critics of the Ennahda-led government maintain it has failed to revive the economy or bring stability since the mass uprising. The nation, which was seen as the catalyst for the Arab Spring uprisings that led to the ouster of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, has been mired in one political crisis after another, with most tied to a small, although increasingly vocal and at times violent Salafi movement seeking to impose Islamic law.
A group of over 50 opposition deputies announced yesterday and today their withdrawal from the 217-member body charged with drafting the country’s new constitution, the state-run TAP news agency reported. The deputies are among those calling for a national salvation government.
The Interior Ministry yesterday identified Boubakr Hakim, who killed Beleid, as being Brahmi’s assassin. The opposition leader was shot repeatedly outside his home on July 25, triggering calls for a national strike and other protests that also flared yesterday.
A political activist with the same opposition coalition as Brahmi died after being hit in the head with a tear gas canister during a protest in the city of Gafsa, the private Mosaique FM radio station reported. Other protests against Brahmi’s death were held in a number of cities.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jihen Laghmari in Cairo at firstname.lastname@example.org
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