Middle East

Tunisia police tear-gas pro-government demo

A picture dated May 20, 2012 shows Tunisian Islamists attending a rally on May 20, 2012 in Kairouan, south of the capital Tunis. AFP PHOTO/FETHI BELAID

GAFSA, Tunisia: Tunisian police on Sunday used tear gas to disperse supporters of the Islamist-led ruling coalition who protested against a meeting by a secular opposition party, an AFP journalist said.

"Get out, you bastards!" chanted protesters, referring to post-revolution premier Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of the opposition movement Nidaa Tounes and a fierce opponent of the Ennahda party that heads the government.

Essebsi's party, which Ennahda accuses of harbouring remnants of the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who was ousted in 2011, is often the target of attacks by pro-government activists without police intervening, the opposition says.

At the end of December, hundreds of Ennahda activists and members of the pro-government League for the Protection of the Revolution militia attacked a hotel in Djerba in the south where a Nidaa Tounes meeting was being held.

For months the opposition has demanded the disbanding of the League for the Protection of the Revolution, accusing it of brutal acts of violence, but Ennahda has steadfastly refused to disband the militia.

League members were accused of lynching a Nidaa Tounes activist in autumn last year and also of attacking the headquarters of the UGTT, the country's largest trade union, in December.





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