Tunisia ruling party official labels parliament freeze a ‘coup’

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The suspension of Tunisia’s embattled Constituent Assembly on Tuesday has been labeled an “unacceptable coup” by the body’s leader, Mustafa Ben Jaafar, said an Assembly member from the country’s ruling Islamist party.

“What Ben Jaafar did is part of an internal coup. It is an unacceptable coup,” Nejib Mrad of the Islamist party Ennahda told local television station Al Mutawassit, according to Reuters news agency.

The opposition also wants to dissolve the Constituent Assembly.

Jaafar announced the parliament freeze on Tuesday, amid mass protests calling for the Tunisian government’s ouster.

“I assume my responsibility as president of the ANC (assembly) and suspend its work until the start of a dialogue, in the service of Tunisia,” he said on state television.

“I call on everybody to take part in dialogue,” said Ben Jaafar, whose Ettakatol party has not resigned from the cabinet but called for a new government team to be formed.

The Ettakatol party is part of the coalition of the ruling moderate Islamic movement Ennahda, which the secular opposition wants to oust from power.

Some 40,000 opposition protesters massed outside the constituent assembly building on Tuesday night to demand the resignation of the governing coalition led by the, AFP news agency reported, citing police sources.

(With AFP and Reuters)