Tunisia: shaking the Islamists

Submitted by Matthew on 13 February, 2013 - 6:52

Mobilisation since the murder on 6 February of a left-wing politician, Chokri Belaïd, has shaken the Islamist government in Tunisia.

Prime minister Hamadi Jebali has called on all ministers to resign so that he can replace the current administration — a coalition of his Islamist party, Ennahda, with two smaller secular parties — by a “government of technocrats” to run until parliamentary elections in mid-July.

This is his fallback gambit after his initial call for the dissolution of the government was rejected both by Tunisia’s president, a secular politician, and by Jebali’s own party.

The trade union federation UGTT called an effective general strike on the day of Chokri Belaïd’s funeral, 8 February, and even on government estimates 40,000 attended the funeral. There were also demonstrations against the Islamists across the country, sometimes including attacks on public and Ennahda party buildings.

The UGTT’s demands for its general strike included the dissolution of the “Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution”, an Ennahda militia which has taken part in attacks on UGTT offices.

On 9 February Ennahda’s youth movement called a counter-demonstration, with demagogic slogans against “counter-revolution”, against “French interference”, and for “the mandate of the ballot-box”. Despite also being backed by salafist groups, it drew only 3000 to 4000.

The “Left Workers’ League”, a Trotskyist group in Tunisia, has warned against “the escalation of political violence clearly inspired by the Ennahda movement and its cowardly henchmen, its terrorist militias and its criminal leaders”. It declares that Ennahda is “putting the country in hock to the Gulf states and the imperialists”.

“Let’s get rid of the government and the Constituent Assembly members, and elect militant local committees to create a situation of dual power!

“Let’s all call for civil disobedience and a general strike to bring down the regime”.