October 28, 2011 (Al Jazeera)
October 28, 2011 (Al Jazeera)
Security forces disperse demonstrators attacking government offices in Sidi Bouzid following dispute over results.
Tunisian security forces have reportedly fired into the air to try to disperse a crowd of protesters attempting to attack the headquarters of the regional government in the town of Sidi Bouzid, witnesses say.
Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri, reporting from Tunis, said security forces had been largely absent before intervening on Friday, after election-related protests erupted overnight.
“Protesters have basically been on the rampage, burning down the mayor’s office, also setting fire to a court and attempting to get into the headquarters,” she said.
“There have been some arrests and teargas has been fired.”
The interior ministry has announced that a curfew will be imposed from 7pm (18:00 GMT) on Friday to 5am (04:00 GMT) on Saturday morning in Sidi Bouzid.
The town was the cradle of the uprising that drove Zine el Abidine Ben Ali from power in January began. Local vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in December, in an act of protest against officialdom which unleashed the revolts around the Arab world.
After Sunday’s national elections, supporters of a party popular in Sidi Bouzid were angered that it had been eliminated from the ballot over allegations of campaign finance violations.
Areedha Chaabiya, or the Popular List, placed fourth in the voting, but election officials cancelled several of its seats over alleged campaign finance violations.
The election was won by the Islamist Ennahdha party which with 41.5 per cent of the votes cast took 90 seats in the assembly that will rewrite the constitution and appoint a president and a caretaker government..
Addressing a press conference in Tunis on Friday, the party’s leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, called for calm in Sidi Bouzid and accused forces linked to the country’s ousted president of fanning the violence.
“We call for calm and the preservation of public property,” he said.
After results were announced on Thursday, hundreds of people marched on the Sidi Bouzid headquarters of Ennahdha, burning tyres and pelting security forces with stones.
Protests spread to nearby Menzel Bouzayane where more than 1,000 people demonstrated, union official Mohamed Fadhel said. In Meknassy, 50km from Sidi Bouzid, demonstrators set fire to Ennahdha’s party office, Fadhel said.
Ennahdha was banned under Ben Ali’s regime and registered as a political party in March.
It said on Friday it had begun talks with other parties on forming a coalition government. Party secretary-general Hamadi Jbeli said the priority in the talks would be reviving the Tunisian economy.
“We are going to speed up to build the new government … It will take between a week and 10 days,” Jbeli, likely to be prime minister in the new cabinet, said.
Ghannouchi said his party would honour an undertaking to finish writing a new constitution within one year.