(MENAFN - Arab News) Thousands of members of Tunisia's ruling party Ennahda yesterday protested to support their movement's legitimacy and denounce plans for a government of technocrats aimed at resolving a major crisis.
Protesters, many waving party flags and some holding black Salafist banners, thronged Habib Bourguiba Avenue, a Tunis boulevard that was the cradle of the 2011 uprising that ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
"Supporting Ennahda is a duty," they shouted, also jeering ex-premier Beji Caid Essebsi and the secular opposition party Call of Tunisia which he heads, and which portrays itself as an alternative to the ruling bloc. The mass rally was called by Ennahda to denounce Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali's plan to form a government of technocrats in a bid to resolve Tunisia's worst political crisis since the revolution.
Jebali, Ennahda's number two, announced his plan to form a nonpartisan government in the wake of public outrage over the killing of leftist leader Chokri Belaid, who was gunned down outside his home on Feb. 6.
Belaid's assassination sparked bloody clashes between opposition protesters and police and attacks on Ennahda offices. The violence plunged Tunisia into further turmoil after months of failure to overhaul the government, while also laying bare divisions within the ruling party.
The prime minister has threatened to resign if he fails to get the support he needs to form his new government.
After meeting the leaders of the main parties on Friday, Jebali said talks on the new administration had been rescheduled for Monday and that a previous deadline for its formation had been canceled, with no new date set.