Tunisian Protesters Call for Fall of Government as Military Cracks Down

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Common Dreams

Tunisian Protesters Call for Fall of Government as Military Cracks Down

Security forces declare main square 'closed military zone'

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Mass protests continued throughout Tunisia on Monday following popular outrage over the assassination of leftist opposition leader Mohammed Brahmi last week.

Opposition leaders are now calling for the dissolution of the current government as the political crisis looms and protesters amass in one of the largest demonstrations since Tunisia's 'Arab Spring' in 2011, Reuters reports.

Police forces sealed off Bardo Square with barbed wire in the capital city of Tunis on Monday morning, declaring it “a closed military zone" after demonstrations and clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters continued throughout the weekend and into early Monday morning.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners had gather in the Tunis streets on Saturday during a funeral for Brahmi as he was buried next to the similarly slain leftist leader Chokri Belaid. Both were members of the Popular Front party who are loud critics of the ruling Ennahda party.

Protesters chanted "avenge" Brahmi and Belaid on Saturday while they gathered outside of the Constituent Assembly in Tunis. Riot police and government supporters clashed with protesters there.

The protests continued on Sunday. "Enough with Ghannouchi" and "The people want the fall of the assassins," the crowds chanted, referring to Ennahda chief Rached Ghannouchi.

Meanwhile police fired tear gas in the southern city of Sidi Bouzid after protesters tried to storm municipal offices. Supporters of the Ennahda party also clashed with the protesters there.

Governmental opposition leaders have maintained support for the protesters and are calling on the ruling Ennahda party leaders to step down.

On Sunday Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou said he would guarantee the safety of anti-government demonstrators.

"[Jeddou] told us that he has clearly given orders for (security) agents not to use force against demonstrators and those who take part in the sit-in before the National Constituent Assembly," said leftist MP Samir Taieb, warning that the country is on the brink of "unprecedented (security) breakdown if the government does not resign".

70 out of the country's 217 MPs have now boycotted the country's Constituent Assembly since Brahmi's murder, demanding the assembly be dissolved. They had set up a sit-in outside the Assembly offices in Bardo square before police cleared and blocked off the area.

Protesters were encircling the square on Monday, despite the heavy military and police presence.

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