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Tunisian secularists protest against new Islamist PM
February 23, 2013 / 5:10 PM / 5 years ago

Tunisian secularists protest against new Islamist PM

Tunis (Reuters) - Thousands of Tunisians protested on Saturday against the new prime minister-designate Ali Larayedh, a hardliner from the main Islamist Ennahda party.

Tunisians chant slogans and hold pictures of assassinated leftist politician Chokri Belaid during a demonstration against the Islamist Ennahda movement in Tunis February 23, 2013. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

President Moncef Marzouki asked Larayedh to form a government on Friday, in the aftermath of the February 6 assassination of secular opposition politician Chokri Belaid.

Outgoing prime minister Hamadi Jebali resigned on Tuesday because Ennahda rejected his plan for an apolitical technocrat cabinet to prepare for elections.

Larayedh, the new premier-designate, is controversial because opposition secularists accuse the Interior Ministry which he headed of failing to curb Islamist violence.

Tunisians chant slogans and hold pictures of assassinated leftist politician Chokri Belaid during a demonstration against the Islamist Ennahda movement in Tunis February 23, 2013. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

About 3000 secularists flocked to the capital’s main street Habib Bourguiba raising banners hostile to the Ennahda party and Larayedh.

They chanted “Larayedh out” and “The people want to bring down the regime”.

A woman chants slogans and holds pictures of assassinated leftist politician Chokri Belaid during a demonstration against the Islamist Ennahda movement in Tunis February 23, 2013. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

Tunisia plunged into political crisis on February 6 when the assassination of secular opposition politician Chokri Belaid ignited the biggest street protests since the overthrow of strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two years ago.

Larayedh, 57, is viewed as part of Ennahda’s hardline wing, which rejects any role for parties linked to the Ben Ali era.

A maritime engineer, Larayedh spent 15 years in jail under Ben Ali.

Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Stephen Powell

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