by Mounir SOUISSI
by Mounir SOUISSI
TUNIS, Aug 23, 2013 (AFP)
Tunisia’s opposition coalition on Friday rejected proposals by the ruling Islamists for ending a month-long political crisis, saying their offer to enter talks on a government of technocrats was insufficient.
“All negotiations without the (immediate) dissolution of the government are a waste of time,” said Taieb Baccouche, a representative of the National Salvation Front.
He was speaking after meeting members of the UGTT trade union confederation, which has been mediating between the two sides and which forwarded the ruling Ennahda party’s proposals.
Jilani Hammami, another NSF representative, described Ennahda’s proposals, the details of which were not communicated to the press, as ambiguous.
Ennahda indicated on Thursday, for the first time since the start of the crisis triggered by the assassination of opposition MP Mohamed Brahmi, that it might agree to the resignation of the coalition government which it heads.
But the Islamists stressed that a “national dialogue” bringing together supporters and opponents of the ruling coalition needed to take place first.
“We are going to keep up the pressure for the goverment’s dissolution, we have a plan to step up the mobilisation on the ground,” Hammami said.
The opposition has called for nationwide anti-government demonstrations, starting on Saturday, with the first big gathering to take place outside the national assembly.
Activists and opposition MPs have gathered regularly outside parliament over the past month, with two protests, on August 6 and 13, drawing tens of thousands of people.
The UGTT, which boasts some 500,000 members and is capable of bringing the country to a standstill, has been central to the negotiations, shuttling between the Islamists and the opposition in a bid to break the deadlock.
Beyond the composition of the government itself, Ennahda wants the national dialogue to address other key political differences, including on the new constitution, which has been repeatedly delayed.
The union’s secretary general, Houcine Abassi, was due to meet the Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi again at 1700 GMT on Friday.
The opposition accuses the government of failing to rein in Tunisia’s Islamists hardliners, who are blamed for murdering Brahmi and Chokri Belaid, another prominent secular politician whose assassination in February brought down the first Ennahda-led coalition.
Ennahda has also been accused of mismanaging the economy and failing to improve living standards.
The criticism is similar to that levelled against Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by millions of protesters who took to the streets before the army overthrew him on July 3.
Senior Ennahda members have, for their part, accused the opposition of trying to mirror events in Egypt, saying that their demands amount to an attempt to engineer a “coup” like the one that ousted Morsi.