Lotfi Naguedh, a coordinator for the opposition Nidaa Tounes party, died on Thursday in the southeastern town of Tatouine after a protest by the Committee for the Protection of the Revolution turned violent.
The league had called for a march on Thursday that ended up at the regional headquarters of the Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fishing of which Naguedh was in charge. According to statements by Chairman of Nidaa Tounes Beji Caid Essebsi, representatives from the ruling Ennahdha party had participated in the march.
The Interior Ministry confirmed the violence and received criticism from all sides, even within the ruling Troà¯ka coalition.
And we blame the government for it because in these kinds of instances they don't intervene, but in other important matters “ the case of Menzel Bouzayane and Omrane where people are asking for development and improvement of their standards of living “ the government sends its police officers to violently intervene, said Jawhara Tiss, a Constituent Assembly member affiliated with Ennahdha representing Tataouine.
According to Tiss, UTAP employees threatened with sharp objects demonstrators when the latter arrived at the union's headquarters. Clashes ensued, and cocktail molotovs were hurled by union employees at the protesters. The police intervened, yet they could not prevent a number of people from being injured and burnt nor one who was stabbed, she said.
In regards to the death of Naguedh, Tiss stated that the opposition party coordinator could not have died from the physical attacks he received but rather from subsequent heart failure.
Taieb Baccouch, a member of the political bureau of Nidaa Tounes, contested this account, which was also given by the Interior Ministry, and called it false information in a press conference held by the party yesterday.
Nidaa Tounes has been gathering evidence against Naguedh's attackers, and the cousin and brother-in-law of the victim claim to know the exact perpetrators by name, said Baccouch in his public statements.
Many currently see a mounting political crisis in Tunisia. The death of Naguedh comes only five days before the first anniversary of last year's democratic elections by which date a constitution ought to have been written and new elections held. So far, the constitutional draft is incomplete, and the next elections will be unlikely to happen in the near future.
This might be the start of a new wave of political violence, intimated Tiss in light of Naguedh's death in Tataouine.