Exactly two years since Tunisia’s first free elections, violence and political tension have marked the anniversary.
In the Sidi Bouzid region in the centre of the country, at least six policemen were killed when security forces clashed with armed Islamists. It is the latest sign of insecurity in Tunisia where the Arab Spring revolts began.
In the capital Tunis, thousands marched to demand the resignation of the Islamist-led government.
The ruling Ennahda party says it will go once it has completed negotiations with the opposition to form a caretaker administration ahead of new elections. For many, though, with no sign of progress on the day talks were to be held, their patience with the power-transfer deal is wearing thin.
One of the demonstrators, actress Najoua Zouhir, was scathing. “A government that promises and signs sheets and roadmaps, which officially committed to govern for only one year, continues to govern, and makes threats and keeps its seats and takes money from people and continues to draft a constitution that has never been written,” she said.
Completion of a new constitution is another condition given by the government before it will step down to help end a crisis triggered by the assassination of two opposition politicians earlier this year.
In a speech, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said that Prime Minister Ali Larayedh has personally assured him of his determination to see the plan through, once conditions are met. Larayedh, himself, confirmed that Ennahda was ready to resign. But, in a statement on Wednesday, he reiterated the need for the completion of the constitution, the establishment of an electoral commission and a clear election date before handing over power.
Such statements are unlikely to reassure those counting down to the changes they want to see in post-revolutionary Tunisia.
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