6 February 2013

Tunisia: Protests Erupt in Regions After Chokri Belaid's Assassination

Tunis — Protests erupted in several governorates of the country after the assassination of Chokri Belaid, Secretary-General of the Unified Democratic Patriotic Party.

Kebili Governate

In Kebili, a march departed from the seat of the regional labour union in Kebili, bringing together political parties ,including the Echaab Party, the Popular Front and the Tunisian Workers' Party, lawyers, culture people and citizens and toured the different streets of the city.

Participants in this march shouted slogans calling for the resignation of the government and the achievement of democratic transition and people's aspirations.

They also called for flying the Tunisian flag at half mast as a sign of mourning after the assassination of Chokri Belaid, adding that "Tunisia is living through a new turning point in the process of the Revolution."

Bizerte Governate

In Bizerte, unionists, components of the civil society and politicians expressed their anger after the announcement of Chokri Belaid's assassination.

A protest departed from the seat of the Regional Labour Union in Bizerte, with the participation of judges, lawyers, unionists and citizens.

Participants waved placards to denounce "political violence and government's inaction" which, according to them," should intervene to put an end to the surge of political violence in the country.

According to protesters, "the government and Ennahdha Movement should fully shoulder responsibility and show firmness towards leagues for the protection for the revolution."

Protesters marched through the streets of Bizerte and headed to the seat of the Governorate where a sit-in was observed to denounce the acts of violence.

The crowd dispersed calmly and no incident was reported.

Sidi Bouzid Governate

On the other hand, an imposing march was staged, Wednesday, in front of the Sidi Bouzid Regional Labour Union and walked through the main street of the city, as well as other arteries to denounce the assassination of Chokri Belaïd.

Representatives of the civil society, the different political parties, organisation and associations in the region, and a large number of citizens took part in this march where the participants chanted slogans denouncing the assassination of Chokri Belaid and calling to "the resignation and the departure of the government."

The demonstrators stopped in front of the Ennahdha party premises, in front of the governorate and the Mohamed Bouazizi square where activists delivered addresses in which they condemned "the resort to violence to silence the opposition."

Classes were suspended, Wednesday, in most Sidi Bouzid schools and other demonstrations were staged in the delegations of the governorates notably in Bir Hfay, Menzel Bouzaïane, Meknassi, Régueb, Jelma and Mazouna.

According to information reported by eyewitnesses to TAP news agency correspondents, "the local office of the Ennahdha movement in Mazouna was attacked and furniture and documents burned."

Some other protesters torched tires in front the premises of the Sidi Bouzid governorate and threw stones against the buildings.

Beja Governorate

In Beja, protesters attempted to attack the Ennahdha party's premises and threw stones against the building, while other citizens gathered in front of the municipality and the governorate chanting slogans calling for the "departure of the government, Ennahdha and the regional authorities."

In another connection, activists of the democratic parties and several inhabitants of the city staged an imposing march in Habib Bourguiba Avenue, France Avenue, January 14 square and in front of the Regional Labour Union.

An important deployment of the security forces and the national army, with suspected members of the "Revolution Protection Leagues" was noted in the governorate.

Ennahdha Party's activists gathered in front of the party's premises to protect them and prevent the protesters from entering by force. The security forces peacefully dispersed the protesters in front of the governorate.

The demonstrators as well as an important numbers of inhabitants were unanimous to condemn "all forms of political violence and physical elimination of the activists, that they consider "contrary and stranger to the Tunisian society."

Gafsa Governate

A march was staged Wednesday in the city of Gafsa in protest against this assassination, with the participation of citizens, lawyers and activists of the Popular Front and representatives of political parties and the civil society.

Participants shouted slogans denouncing violence and political assassinations.

Mr. Zouheir Yahyaoui, lawyer, told TAP correspondent that the assassination of Chokri Belaid is a "dangerous turning point."

He called on internal security forces and the national army to protect the country and citizens against violence.

Protesters headed to the seat of the Unified Democratic Patriotic Party, shouting slogans "against violence" and calling for the fall of the government, while expressing their solidarity with this party.

Hundreds of citizens and activists of the Popular Front gathered at the city centre, outside the local office of the Ennahdha party and a group of angry protesters stormed the office, destroying furniture and tearing off all posters on the facade of the office, noted TAP correspondent.

Security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters.

Another group of protesters headed to the seat of the Governorate and attempted to storm it but security forces protected the offices which were evacuated.

city of Redeyef

In the city of Redeyef, a march was stage to denounce the assassination of Belaid. Protesters attempted to storm the office of the Ennahdha party before staging a rally outside the seat of the local labour union, according to information provided by eye-witnesses in a telephone communication with TAP correspondent.

Nabeul Governate

An imposing march was also staged in the Governorate of Nabeul with the participation of lawyers, representatives of political parties, human rights activists, unionists and local citizens.

Protesters denounced the assassination, calling for the "resignation of the Interior Minister and the government."

Sfax Governate

In the city of Sfax, a march was staged, with the participation of judges, lawyers, civil society members and citizens departed from the seat of the Unified Democratic Patriotic Party.

Protesters marched through the street of the city, waving martyrs' portraits and shouting slogans condemning "terrorism and political assassinations."

Arriving at the seat of the governorate, protesters attempted to storm the main entrance calling for the "departure of the governor and the fall of the government."

Protesters then headed to the seat of the Sfax Radio where co-ordinators of the protest movement, members of the Popular Front and human rights activists spoke on the radio, condemning "the assassination of Chokri Belaid."

Aref Maalej, member of the Shura Council of Ennahdha denied, in a statement to TAP correspondent in the region, "reports on the burning of his party's office in Sfax." He said it was only stormed by a group of youth who destroyed furniture.

Medenine Governorate

A large number of lawyers of the Medenine Governorate organised a protest march which started in front the first instance court and walked through the main road of the Medenine city to stop in front of the Governorate.

The participants in the demonstration denounced the assassination of Chokri Belaïd, by making "the government assume the responsibility of this murder."

During this march to which joined representatives of the civil society components, political parties, members of the Regional Labour Union and citizens, the protesters chanted slogans hostile to the government, calling "to its resignation."

The Regional Co-ordinator of the Popular Front of the Medenine Governorate and member of the regional league of the Unified Democratic Patriotic Party Mourad Ourimi, considered that "the murder of Chokri Belaïd is a planned political assassination aimed to lead the country towards the unknown."

Djerba

Besides, classes were suspended at schools in Djerba and a march was staged in Houmet Souk to denounce crime called by the components of the civil society as "sordid which drags the country into a dangerous turn."

Siliana Governate

An atmosphere of anger and tension also reigned, on Wednesday morning in the governorate of Siliana following the assassination of lawyer Chokri Belaïd.

Lawyers stage a march of protest, after which they met the governor of the region to convey to him a message to the government in which they call it "to resign immediately as it failed to protect the Tunisians from systematic violence."

In another connection, the lawyers denounced, during their meeting with the governor "the inability of the government to achieve the Revolution objectives, re-establish security and stability and preserve the dignity of the citizen."

In turn, the components of the civil society in Siliana staged an imposing march which started in front of the Regional Labour Union premises and went through the main streets of the city, until the governorate's premises.

The participants including the political parties, the organisations and associations called "to the fall of the government" that they accused to be "involved in the spread of political violence."

El Kef Governate

In El Kef, a popular march was staged to denounce "the crime of assassinating Chokri Belaïd".

The participants chanted slogans calling "to continue struggle" and "the resignation of the government." TAP news correspondent noted that the protesters attacked Ennahdha party premises by throwing stones

In the city of Kef, activists of the Unified Democratic Patriotic Party and the Popular Front staged, Wednesday afternoon, an open sit-in outside the municipality until the "fall of the government and the arrest of the murderers of Chokri Belaid.

Gabes Governate

In Gabès, a large peaceful march was staged in front of the premises of the Unified Democratic Patriotic Party to denounce the assassination of Chokri Belaid, Secretary-General of the Party.

The march gathered political activists, the components of the civil society, human rights defenders and citizens. The protesters chanted slogan denouncing the murder of Chokri Belaid and "political violence" which spread in the country and reached "alarming proportions."

Several lawyers organised a silent demonstration in front of the Gabes first court instance towards the regional premises of the Unified Democratic Patriotic Party and chanted slogans denouncing the assassination of Chokri Belaid.

The Gabes Regional Labour Union called on its members for demonstration in their place of work between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. to denounce the assassination of the Unified Democratic Patriotic Party's Secretary-General.

Manouba Governate

Manouba, has experienced, since Wednesday morning a situation of tension with the deployment of important security apparatus to prevent any possible escalation following Chokri Belaid's assassination.

Several political activists and citizens expressed to TAP news agency correspondent in the region their strong indignation in front of this "ignoble crime" which is likely to endanger political and socio-economic stability of the country.

Teachers and pupils headed towards Habib Bourguiba Avenue to take part in the protest and denounce the assassination of Chokri Belaid after the suspension of classes in several schools of the region.

Jendouba Governate

In Jendouba, the lawyers staged, on Wednesday, protest march in front of the first instance court of the region to denounce the murder of lawyer Chokri Belaid.

Several representatives of the civil society and citizens took part in this march and chanted slogans claiming "the resignation of the government, the re-establishment of security and neutrality of the Interior and Justice Ministries."

Contacted by TAP news agency correspondent in the region, Rabeh Khraïfi, Lawyer and member of the National Constituent Assembly, said that the alarm bell rang several times on the spread of political and terrorist violence, underlining that the reaction of the Interior and Justice Ministries were not on the level of these dangers.

Several participants expressed their deep sorrow following the assassination of Chokri Belaid, native of their region, cautioning against the upsurge of the phenomenon of violence.

Several Jendouba inhabitants went to Tunis to join the protests.

Monastir Governate

In Monastir, political parties, associations, lawyers, citizens and students staged a peaceful march from the seat of the regional labour union to faculties, the governorate, the court of first instance and the office of the Ennahdha, near the seat of the delegation to denounce the assassination of Chokri Belaid.

Demonstrators stormed the office of the Ennahdha and destroyed all the documents there.

Sousse Governate

The city of Sousse was also the scene of several protests with the participation of many citizens and components of the civil society, denouncing the assassination of the secretary-general of the Unified Democratic Patriotic Party.

Protesters shouted slogans blaming the government and the Ennahdha party for this criminal act by being soft on violence.

Lawyers of the regional section of the Bar in Sousse staged a peaceful protest. They marched through the streets of the city and were joined by groups of citizens, considering that this political assassination is an attack on lawyers and freedoms and a blow to the democratic process.

A second march departed from Bab Bhar square in the city of Sousse with the participation of political parties and activists of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) as well as groups of citizens who broke into the offices of the league for protection of the revolution in Sousse city centre and destroyed their equipment.

Security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters on their arrival at the seat of the governorate.

A third march was staged from the main street of the city to the office of the Ennahdha party with no violence reported.

A fourth march was staged Wednesday afternoon by the joint regional committee of parties of the Union for Tunisia in Sousse, in co-ordination with activists of the Popular Front.

Gafsa Governate

In Gafsa, violent clashes erupted, late on Wednesday morning, between the order forces and the protesters who demonstrated against the assassination of Chokri Belaid, reported TAP news agency correspondent in the region.

The protesters threw stones, besieged the Ennahdha movement premises and torched its equipments.

The order forces used tear gas to disperse the protesters and secure the Ennahdha movement members who were besieged in the party's premises.

Road traffic on the national road n°3 crossing the Gafsa city was blocked.

Clashes between the protesters and the order forces took place in several places of the city.

Kasserine Governate

In Kasserine, a peaceful march was staged in the city gathering Unionists and the human rights activists and citizens to strongly denounce the assassination of Chokri Belaid.

The participants in this demonstration expressed their strong indignation against "this heinous and terrorist crime."

Tataouine Governate

In Tataouine, classes were suspended at school, following a joint statement published by the regional unions of the primary and the secondary education in the region in which the two structures called on the teachers to suspend classes, as a sign of protest against "the heinous crime" of Chokri Belaid's assassination.

In turn, the Regional Labour Union published a communiqué in which they strongly condemned the "coward political assassination of Chokri Belaid," emphasising its repercussions on security and the political scene in the country and the country's image in the world.

Kairouan Governate

In Kairouan, demonstrators broke into the governorate's premises following a protest march which started in front of the Regional Labour Union.

The protesters expressed their strong indignation of the assassination of the human rights activist and politician Chokri Belaid, calling to prosecute the authors of this criminal act.

Kebili Governate

In Kebili, local governor Habib Jeridi decided to half-mast the national flag on the seat of the Governorate, at the request of human rights activisits who call for the participation of regional authorities with the national community in the mourning after the assassination of Chokri Belaid.

Tozeur Governate

In Tozeur, a popular march was staged Wednesday afternoon outside the Regional Labour Union of Tozeur to denounce assassination of human rights activist and politician Chokri Belaid.

Lawyers, representatives of political forces, unionists and the civil society of the region took part in the march during which protesters denounced the assassination, holding the Ennahdha responsible for this operation and shouted slogans calling for "the resignation of the government."

One-hour sit-ins were observed Wednesday afternoon at schools and in public administratives.

Nefta City

A protest rally was also staged Wednesday afternoon in the city of Nefta, outside the local labour union, with the participation of political parties, associations and citizens of the city to denounce the assassination of Chokri Belaid.

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