Tens of thousands of Tunisians march against Islamist-led govt one of largest protests to date

Supporters of the Islamist Ennahda movement light flares and wave flags during a rally in Tunis

Tens of thousands of Tunisians have marched on the seat of the elected assembly demanding the government resign in one of the largest opposition protests to date.

Saturday marked 40 days since the assassination of opposition politician Mohammed Brahmi, whose killing has plunged the country into a political crisis.

Dozens of opposition members of the assembly withdrew from the body, paralyzing its work of writing the country’s new constitution. Weeks of mediation between the government and the opposition by the main labor union have not borne fruit.

The opposition is demanding the Islamist-led government resign for what they say is its failure to ensure security or manage the economy in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring.

“We are determined to continue the struggle to extract the country from the disastrous situation it finds itself in because of those in power,” said Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of the right-of-center Nida Tunis (Tunis Calls) party, one of the main opposition groups.

“After the blood, Ennahda has no legitimacy,” chanted demonstrators who came from all over the country to answer the opposition call for the march.

When Tunisians overthrew their decades-old authoritarian government in January 2011, it sparked a wave of pro-democracy uprisings across the region, but the transition to democracy has been rocky since.

“Leave! The dictator understood, but you still don’t understand,” chanted the marchers, referring to how Tunisia’s president fled for Saudi Arabia in the face of popular demonstrations.

The opposition is demanding the Islamist-led government resign immediately for what they say is its failure to ensure security or manage the economy. The latest standoff is the greatest crisis of the transition and a solution acceptable to both sides appears to still be distant.

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