The secretary general of Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party came out in favor of a non-partisan cabinet in what may be a significant concession to the secular opposition after weeks of anti-government unrest.
Tens of thousands rallied on Tuesday in downtown Tunis in an escalation of protests since the July 25 assassination of opposition figure Mohammad Brahmi, the second such killing this year. Radical Islamists were blamed for both attacks.
“We need to form a non-political government to lead the country to elections within six months,” said Hamadi Jebali, the second-ranking leader in the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, Reuters reports.
The opposition is angry about the two assassinations and has been emboldened by the Egyptian military’s removal of President Mohamed Mursi last month after mass protests against his perceived attempts to entrench Islamist control of the state.
Jebali’s gesture appeared to depart from Ennahda’s standing rejection of opposition demands for the dismissal of Prime Minister Ali Larayedh but the final word rests with party chairman Rached Ghannouchi, who has not commented.
Jebali also called for the Constituent Assembly to complete its drafting of a constitution and electoral law in a few weeks to help defuse Tunisia’s worst political crisis since secular dictator Zine el-Abidine Ali fell to a popular uprising in 2011.