Tunisian President Marzouki canceled trips he planned to pay in the upcoming days to Senegal and Brazil because of the security situation in his country, the state news agency TAP reported Sunday. A statement from the Tunisian presidency said Mr. Marzouki took this last minute decision “to follow the internal situation in the country”.
According to media reports, Tunisian President planned to pay an official visit to Senegal as of Monday, before traveling to Brazil to take part in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio +20.
Tunisia was rocked last week by more violence, this time because of a controversial exhibition featuring paintings deemed blasphemous. Groups belonging to the Salafist movement have burned a court and police stations in several regions. Despite the lifting of the curfew imposed in the wake of the violence, the situation remains precarious.
Meanwhile, the former Prime Minister of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi on Saturday launched a new secular party, to serve as a counterweight to the moderate Islamist party of al-Nahda, the leading political force in this North Africa country.
The founder of Tunisia’s Nida (The Call of Tunisia) is the first appointed prime minister after the fall of Zine Ben Ali in January 2011. He stepped down last December, following the victory of al-Nahda in the election of the Constituent Assembly. The Islamist party won more than 40% of the seats, while many secular parties have divided the left and the liberal voters.
Faced with last week Salafist riots, Ennahda must now reconcile the pressure of its own Islamist base with the requirements of small groups who are part of the coalition government. “The political parties are unbalanced and, unfortunately, have not been able to work together, “said Beji Caid Essebsi in front of about 2,000 supporters.
“Accordingly, we are announcing the creation of the Call of Tunisia.” Outside the convention center where the meeting took place, dozens of Islamists demonstrated, accusing Beji Caid Essebsi of being a “feloul” , a “vestige” of the old regime.