The “National Salvation Front” consists of several opposition parties and civil society components united in their opposition to the Nahda-led government. The front was formed after last week’s assassination of MP Muhamed al-Brahmi and blames Ennahda for the upsurge of violence and political assassinations. They demand the replacement of the parliament and government for a “higher authority of national salvation” that that will finish the constitution – in collaboration with experts in constitutional law – and put it to a referendum. A “national salvation” government should then lead the countries to the next election. Who are part of this National Salvation Front? Call of Tunisia (Nidaa Tounes), the Workers’ Party, Socialist Party and al-Qutb are the most famous parties that alligned themselves to this front. An important opposition party that is not part of this front is the Republican Party (Joumhouri), the only party that is led by female politician Maya Jribi.
According to a press release yesterday the Salvation Front continues to demand the dissolution of the parliament and considers it “a red line and of utter importance to find a solution to the country’s deep crisis”.
Tunisian General Labour Union
The Tunisian General Labour Union, known by its French anchronym UGTT, is the countries biggest and until recently only labour union. Historically the union has played a very important role in Tunisia’s struggle for independence. It has approximately 600.000 members and is well represented throughout the country, the bigger cities as well as rural in Tunisia. During the revolution it played again an important role in supporting and organizing demonstrations against Ben Ali’s regime. It is lead by current Secretary General Houcine Abbasi (see picture above). Alot can be said on the current role the Union plays in Tunisia and as powerful as it is, but I will leave that for another post. After Chokri Belaid was assassinated last February which plunged the country into a crisis the Union organized a meeting for all political parties to come to a common understanding. Although the relation between especially Ennahda and the Union has at times been tense, it is neverthless considered a mediator between by all Tunisian political parties.
So what does the Union have to say about the current crisis?
Considering the fact that the Union has more than once become a mediator and is very powerful it is important to know what they demand. The Union decided during a long meeting that their demand is the dismissal of the government, without however setting an ultimatum for that. However, the Union did not touch upon the question what should be done to the parliament and left that open to many possibilities. It did emphasize that the final constitution should be reviewed by “independent experts”. Whereas the National Salvation Front demands the complete dissolution of the parliament and Ennahda considers that a “red line”, as do some other political parties. More about the Union’s statements can be read here.
I expect the Union to wait first for all parties involved to try and settle the crisis. Negotiations have been going on for a couple of days now. If that fails the Union will probably (or possibly already did) take initiative itself to mediate between all parties involved in trying to find a solution.