Conflict & Justice

Tunisia protests spread as President Moncef Marzouki demands new cabinet


A Tunisian protester raises his arms during clashes with security forces in the southern town of Siliana, on November 29, 2012. More than 250 people were wounded in a second day of clashes between Tunisian security forces, a hospital source told AFP, as they called for the resignation of Ahmed Ezzine Mahjoubi, the governor of Siliana, a poor farming region 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Tunis.


Fethi Belaid

Tunisia’s President Moncef Marzouki has requested that the country’s prime minister appoint a new cabinet in the wake of increasingly violent protests over the country’s lagging economic situation.

"The government must be changed to have a competent technocrat cabinet and not a party political one," Marzouki, a secularist, said in an address carried on state television, Reuters reported. "If the clashes continue and the government's response is not adequate, there will be chaos and a dead-end."

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who took office last October and has true executive power in the country and has clashed with Marzouki before, did not comment on the president’s words.

The protests are some of the harshest backlash against him since he came to power. 

The demonstrations, which brought over 10,000 people into the streets over lack of jobs and government investment, entered their fourth day on Friday. At least 220 people were injured, Al Jazeera reported

More from GlobalPost: Tunisia government caught between secularists and religious right

UN human rights officials said the security personnel used excessive force to stop the violence, Al-Arabiya reported

The army had reportedly moved in to quell the violence on Saturday, as the union met with some members of the government to negotiate. The prime minister and interior minister were both boycotting the talks, according to Al Jazeera.

Violence has spread to the town of Siliana, the Associated Press reported, as military vehicles rolled into the town to replace the police.

Though Marzouki's demands certainly add pressure to Jebali, he is not required to obey the President under the constitution, according to Reuters.