Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tunisia Opposition Party Leader Assassinated in Capital

Tunisia opposition party leader gunned down outside his home

Leftist Arab nationalist People's party leader Mohammed Brahmi shot dead by gunmen on motorbike in Tunis

Associated Press in Tunis, Thursday 25 July 2013 09.59 EDT

Tunisians protested against the assassination of leftist leader Chokri Belaid in February. A second prominent leftist party leader Mohammed Brahmi was shot dead today.

Mohammed Brahmi, 58, of the Arab nationalist People's party was standing outside his home when he was gunned down, according to party member Khaled Khichi.

It is the second killing of an opposition member this year, following that of Chokri Belaid of the leftist Popular Front, who was shot dead in February. His killing provoked a political crisis that nearly derailed Tunisia's political transition.

Brahmi's daughter told Shems FM radio that two men on a moped sped up to her father outside the house and gunned him down. Local media reported he was shot 11 times.

The killing comes as Tunisia was celebrating the 56th anniversary of independence from France.

Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, is struggling with a democratic transition after overthrowing its dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, and facing a faltering economy, popular unrest over unmet expectations and a rising extremist Islamist movement.

The government has blamed Belaid's assassination on Islamist extremists and said that six suspects are still on the run and their names will soon be revealed.

Belaid's death prompted the resignation of the prime minister and a cabinet reshuffle. The latest assassination comes as Tunisia's drawn out transition may just be nearing its end.

The new constitution has been written and will be voted on in the coming weeks. Prime Minister Ali Larayedh promised on Monday that elections for a new president would be held before the end of the year.

Tunisia is led by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, which dominated October 2011 elections and rules in a coalition with two secular parties.

The opposition has criticised Ennahda for not cracking down on Islamist extremists, and many members of Belaid's party hold the government responsible for his assassination.

Thousands protest in Tunis after secular politician slain

Reuters, Thursday 25 Jul 2013

Tens of thousands chant ‘down with the rule of Islamists’ in protest against assasination of Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi

Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi was shot dead outside his home in Tunis on Thursday in the second such assassination this year, setting off mass protests against the Islamist-led government in the capital and elsewhere.

"He was shot in front of his house when he was with his disabled daughter," Mohamed Nabki, a member of Brahmi's secular, nationalist Popular Party, told Reuters. "The killers fled on a motorbike."

The assassination of another secular politician, Chokri Belaid, on Feb. 6 ignited the worst violence in Tunisia since the 2011 fall of autocratic President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

"This criminal gang has killed the free voice of Brahmi," his widow Mbarka Brahmi said, without specifying who she thought was behind the shooting.

Brahmi was a vocal critic of the ruling coalition led by the Islamist Ennahda party and a member of the Constituent Assembly charged with drafting a new constitution for the North African nation, which is split between Islamists and their opponents.

The chairman of the Constituent Assembly declared that Friday would be a day of mourning for Brahmi.

Thousands of people protested outside the Interior Ministry in the capital, Tunis, after the killing.

"Down with the rule of the Islamists," they chanted, and demand the government resign.

Similar demonstrations erupted in the southern town of Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the Tunisian revolution, where protesters set fire to two local Ennahda party offices, witnesses said.

"Thousands have taken to the streets. People have blocked roads and set tyres alight," said Mehdi Horchani, a resident of Sidi Bouzid. "People are very angry."

Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda party, said Brahmi's assassination aimed at "halting Tunisia's democratic process and killing the only successful model in the region, especially after the violence in Egypt, Syria and Libya".

Tunisia's political transition since the revolt that toppled Ben Ali has been relatively peaceful, with the moderate Islamist Ennahda party sharing power with smaller secular parties.

But the Egyptian army's overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on July 3 following mass protests against him has energised the anti-Islamist opposition in Tunisia.

Ennahda's secretary-general, Hamadi Jebali, who had to resign as prime minister following Belaid's death in February, condemned Brahmi's killing as "the second installment in a conspiracy against the revolution and the country".

The secretary-general of Tunisia's main trade union confederation, Hussein Abbasi, predicted a "bloodbath".

Opposition leader shot dead in Tunisia

Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:38PM GMT

Unidentified gunmen have shot and killed the prominent Tunisian opposition leader and member of parliament, Mohamed al-Brahmi, in front of his house in the city of Tunis, security sources say.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui said gunmen shot dead Brahmi, who leads the leftist People Movement party, outside his house Thursday morning.

Brahmi, 58, was in his car outside his home when gunmen fired several shots at him, Aroui added.

Thousands of angry supporters of the slain opposition member reportedly poured onto the streets of Tunis and other cities to protest the assassination. The protesters gathered in front of the Ministry of Interior, demanding the closure of parliament.

The slain leader held a seat in the assembly tasked with writing the new constitution.

This is the first killing of an opposition politician since leftist Chokri Belaid was assassinated in February, triggering a political crisis in the North African country.

The government has blamed Belaid's assassination on extremists.

Tunisia, the birthplace of pro-democracy protests across North Africa and the Middle East, is struggling with a democratic changeover after the overthrow of its dictator in 2011.

The moderate ruling party Ennahda was elected following the ouster of former dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, in January 2011.

Tunisia has seen numerous clashes between the authorities and extremist groups over the past few months.

No comments: