Africa

Tunisia crisis: Tens of thousands join protest

Protest in Tunis, 6 August
Image caption The protesters demand the dissolution of the constituent assembly

Tens of thousands of protesters have marched in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, to demand the resignation of the Islamist-led government.

It is the largest demonstration of its kind since the latest political crisis began two weeks ago when a prominent opposition politician was assassinated.

Earlier, the constituent assembly was suspended until the government and opposition open negotiations.

The assembly is drawing up a new constitution.

Union call

The protest in central Tunis was called by the opposition to demand the assembly's dissolution and the resignation of the government, and to mark the six-month anniversary of the assassination of prominent secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid.

The powerful Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) called on its 600,000 members to join the rally.

"The people want the fall of the regime," the crowds in Bardo Square shouted.

The speaker of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), Mustapha Ben Jaafar, said work on a new constitution and electoral law would resume once "dialogue commences".

Mr Ben Jaafar, whose Ettakatol party is part of the cabinet, condemned the failure of politicians to resolve the crisis.

There have been daily protests calling for the body to be dissolved since one of its members was assassinated.

Mohamed Brahmi was shot on 25 July, almost six months after Mr Belaid, a fellow leftist politician, was killed.

About 60 members of the ANC withdrew in protest at the killings and organised a sit-in outside its headquarters in Tunis.

Once the constitution has been drawn up, fresh elections are due to be held in December. The body has already gone eight months beyond its promised deadline.

The political unrest is the worst seen in Tunisia since President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown by a popular uprising in January 2011.

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