Tunis, 26 October
Tunisia’s ruling Islamists and the Opposition met today to discuss a new constitution on the second day of hard-won negotiations to resolve a months-old political crisis.
The murder in July of an Opposition leader, Mohammed Brahmi, by suspected jihadists triggered growing calls for the resignation of the government led by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda.
Yesterday, Islamist Prime Minister Ali Larayedh made a written pledge to resign and pave the way for a Cabinet of Independents headed by a new premier who is to be named within a week.
A first meeting of the much-delayed national dialogue opened yesterday afternoon and the divided factions met behind closed doors into the early hours of today.
The UGTT trade union mediating the negotiations said the talks focused on appointing a committee that will be tasked with forming the new cabinet.
Today’s session was to focus on forming a commission of experts to finalise a proposed constitution, a task which has dragged on for two years and that now must be completed within a month.
Meanwhile, the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) was also scheduled to convene after 60 Opposition lawmakers ended a boycott of the body they started after Mr Brahmi’s assassination.
NCA President Mustapha Ben Jaafar was also due to address the assembly later in the day.
A commission tasked with selecting candidates to form an independent elections body was also due to meet today.
The roadmap to end the political crisis, brokered by the UGTT, set a deadline of one week for the formation of the body that will organise elections. But despite the beginning of talks yesterday after three months of stalemate, many were still wary of Ennahda’s intentions.
Opposition MP Selma Mabrouk wrote on Facebook: “Vigilance will be the rule for all those who want this process to succeed, because we are clearly not safe from Ennahda’s usual attempts to barter.”
Although local press voiced some relief that talks were finally underway, newspapers also urged caution.
“The national dialogue is not easy at all. Political parties will have to come to agree on in three weeks what they have not managed to form in two years,” daily ‘Le Quotidien’ said.