Tunisia Moves to Contain Fallout After Opposition Figure Is Assassinated
08/02/2013 4 comentarios
Tunisian officials moved quickly Wednesday to contain fallout after leading opposition figure was assassinated outside his home. They announced that they would restructure the Islamist-led government and form a national unity cabinet as thousands took to streets in protests security forces beat back with tear gas (…..) In chilling prelude to his death, in a television interview on Tuesday, Belaid accused Ennahda of giving “an official green light” to political violence. Separately, accused “Ennahda mercenaries and Salafists” of attacking meeting of supporters on Saturday. His wife, Besma Khalfaoui, blamed Ennahda and told Tunisia’s state news agency that authorities had ignored her husband’s pleas for protection during 4 months death threats. In a stunned Tunisia, as news of the killing spread, thousands poured into the streets in the capital and other cities. A crowd gathered in front of interior ministry, a massive building that is still a hated symbol of Mr. Ben Ali and his security services, to express anger at new government. “Resignation, resignation, cabinet of treason,” people shouted. Riot police officers fired tear gas into crowds and plainclothes security officers beat protesters, witnesses said, in scenes that recalled the uprising two years ago. In other cities, protesters attacked Ennahda’s offices. The party vigorously denied any role in the killing, but the damage to its reputation seemed difficult to repair. Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center, said assassination was a blow to aspirations of Islamist parties taking the reins in democratic transitions in the region, most notably in Egypt and Tunisia. In Egypt, Islamists have failed to build consensus and trust, relying instead on narrow majoritarianism. In Tunisia, they built a coalition with liberals but failed to take a stand against more hard-line Islamists competing for support on their right. “Facing down extremists, Islamists find that very difficult,” Mr. Shaikh said. In Tunisia, he said, extremists included not only Salafis but more militant actors closer to Al Qaeda. “They have not been very quiet in terms of their intentions, and yet Ennahda has not taken them on”. In Tunisia, some hoped that the killing would serve as a warning not just about the dangers of political violence, but also about authorities’ refusal to confront it. Amna Guellali, a Human Rights Watch researcher based in Tunis, said group had documented numerous attacks on activists, journalists and political figures by various groups, including the Salafis. “The victims filed complaints to local tribunals, never heard anything back”. “There is a trend of impunity. This impunity can lead to emboldening” attackers. “Yesterday, Chokri Belaid called for national dialogue to confront political violence,” she said. “This just adds to the tragedy”.