Mohamed Brahmi, 58, a member of the National Constituent Assembly and member of the opposition The People’s Movement Party, part of the Popular Front, has been assassinated in front of his home in Cite el-Ghazala, a suburb of Tunis.
Sources at the hospital confirmed that Brahmi was shot 11 times and died immediately. His wife brought him to the hospital.
This the second political assassination in the past several months. Chokri Belaid, another member of the opposition was shot in front of his home on February 6th.
Friday, July 26:
Nawaat has reported on Twitter that a Popular Front activist was killed in Gafsa after being struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by police.
The press conference is over. Tunisia Live continue live coverage tomorrow morning as we report on Brahmi’s funeral, which is scheduled to begin at 9 am.
Noomane Fehri of the al-Joumhouri party: The ruling “Troika,” or coalition, should not push Tunisia to a scenario similar to Egypt where more people are killed.
Mongi Rahoui of the Popular Front says that Tunisians are putting a lot of pressure on the government, starting in Sidi Bouzid and spreading nationwide and that pressure is spreading nationwide starting from Sidi Bouzid.
Opposition members announcing withdrawal at the press conference explain that the decision to withdrawal from the NCA instead of resign is to unify their position.
Salma Baccar, al-Masar NCA member: We noticed that despite recent improvement within the NCA, the situation outside the assembly has been deteriorating.
Salma Mabrouk, NCA Member with the al-Massar party: We did not consult with our parties to make this decision to withdrawal. We took this decision as individual NCA members.
Issam Chebbi of the al-Joumhouri party: The ruling Troika did not contact us to suggest a salvation government.
NCA member Mongi Rahoui of the Popular Front says at the press conference that the NCA might have to decide that it must be dissolved on its own and transfer its power to an independent committee. We will announce in what methods this transition should take place within the next few days, he said.
Iyed Dahmani of the Democratic Alliance: “Tunisia today needs a new legitimacy.” He said at the press conference tonight that they are thinking about a group of experts to finalize the constitution.
Samir Taieb of the al-Massar party says the goal of the 42 members is to dissolve the assembly. “Our withdrawal will not give the ruling Troika the chance to replace the resigning members,” he said at the press conference.
Khemais Ksila of the Nidaa Tounes party says the number of NCA members currently withdrawing is 42, but the number may rise.
Nadia Chaabane of the al-Massar party says the 42 members call for a salvation government led by independent national figures.
At a press conference at the Hotel Africa in downtown Tunis, 42 opposition members at the NCA announced their withdrawal from the assembly. They will start an open sit-in in tents outside the assembly building.
They also announce that they advocate dissolving the assembly and the government.
The national salvation government proposed by the 42 members would be composed of independent figures who will not run for the next elections and a panel of experts to finish drafting the constitution, which would be submitted to a national referendum, according to Chokri Yaiche of the Nidaa Tounes party.
The 42 members will be participating in an open sit-in until their demands are met, according to their joint statement.
The 42 members from the Nidaa Tounes, al-Massar, al-Joumhouri, Popular Front, Democratic Alliance, and Initiative parties have released a joint statement announcing their withdrawal from the NCA and calling for the formation of a national salvation government
42 representatives have announced their withdrawal from the National Constituent Assembly, al-Massar NCA member Karima Souid announced on Twitter. A press conference will be held at 10 p.m. at the Africa Hotel in downtown Tunis.
A statement from the Ministry of Interior says that parking will not be allowed near the Jallez cemetery tomorrow morning during Brahmi’s funeral.
Zoubaia Choubia of the ruling Ennahdha party tells Tunisia Live that proposals by opposition parties to resign from the NCA are “only suggestions.” He says they are angry about what happened, but that Tunisia has almost finished its transition period. “I’m very positive that nothing will happen,” he said, asserting that in the upcoming hours the situation would calm down.
Chokri Yaiche, an NCA member with the opposition Nidaa Tounes party, tells Tunisia Live that Nidaa Tounes, the al-Joumhouri party, and the Popular Front coalition will issue a joint statement at 18:00 deciding whether their members will resign from the NCA or suspend their membership. Yaiche emphasized, however, that Nidaa Tounes is ultimately calling for the dissolution of the assembly.
There are about 400 protesters in front of the NCA building in Bardo.
There are reports that thousands of government supporters had marched from the Fateh Mosque to Avenue Bourguiba earlier in the afternoon. Tunisia Live cannot independently verify this information.
Our reporter observed about 100 protesters supporting the legitimacy of the government in downtown Tunis. There are verbal confrontations between these protesters and anti-government demonstrators.
Here are photos from this afternoon’s sit-in in Bardo:
In their communique, The Initiative called for the immediate dissolution of the government and the NCA, the formation of a national salvation government, and a clear road map for elections. The party also asked protesters to remain calm and refrain from damaging public facilities.
Our reporters estimate that approximately 300 people are in front of the NCA asking for the dissolution of the assembly. The protesters say they will camp out there overnight and then go to Brahmi’s funeral tomorrow morning.
At the press conference at Brahmi’s house, members of the People’s Movement called for people to take the streets immediately to demand the dissolution of the government. A son and daughter of Brahimi echoed this demand to Tunisia Live. His daughter said all opposition members should resign from the National Constituent Assembly.
The Ministry of Interior says that some of the suspects involved in the murders of Brahmi and Belaid belong to conservative religious group Ansar al-Sharia.
Ministry of Interior says that Aboubaker Al-Hakim is one of the main suspects in the Brahmi killing. He is currently on the run and reportedly police have searched his aunt’s house, where he lives, and found a stash of weapons and bullets. Ministry says he is also involved in the February assassination of Chokri Belaid.
Ministry of Interior announces at press conference that the same weapon was used in both Mohamed Brahmi and Chokri Belaid assassinations.
At a press conference outside Brahmi’s home in the Cite el-Ghazela neighborhood of Tunis, it was announced that his funeral will take place tomorrow at 9 a.m. Members of his party say the late politician deserves a state funeral.
In the town of Sidi Bouzid, several hundred protesters gathered in the street this morning. According to a source there, a “coordination committee” was formed to take over administrative functions in the community, as the committee asserted that the local government no longer has authority.
A Tunisia Live reporter estimates that thousands of people are on Avenue Bourguiba near the Ministry of Interior headquarters in downtown Tunis. They are chanting slogans including: “No fear, no terror, the state is against the people” and “the Ministry of Interior is a ministry of terror.”
The Tunisian Stock Exchange Index has fallen nearly two percent so far today.
The Head of the Army has been tasked with preparing for Brahmi’s funeral, according to the Ennahdha International Facebook page.
Photos from in front of the UGTT labor union office in the Medina as supporters gathered earlier this morning:
Contrary to a Mosaique FM report, Najwa Makhlouf of the UGTT labor union says that the union has not called for the dissolution of the NCA, but has only called a general strike.
Chokri Yaiche, an NCA member with the Nidaa Tounes opposition party, tells Tunisia Live that the party will decide this afternoon between two options: either freezing their NCA membership and not getting their salaries, which he says would be in accordance with with the people’s demands, or formally resigning from the assembly.
A local Ennahdha official tells Tunisia Live that supporters of the ruling Islamist party will demonstrate in front of the Fateh mosque in central Tunis starting at 14:00.
A group of parties and civil society components announced this morning the formation of a National Salvation Front, according to Mosaique FM. They demand the formation of a committee including parties and civil society that will finish writing the constitution in two months. They would then send the document for a approval in a referendum. They also call form forming a National Salvation government that would not run for elections. This government would ensure the transparency of elections. Their statement denounced the assassination of Brahmi and held Ennahdha responsible for the spread of violence. The National Salvation Front calls on Tunisians to protest peacefully and to organize a sit-in in front of the NCA to demand its dissolution.
Hattab Barakati of the Workers’ Party confirmed to Tunisia Live that he has resigned from the NCA. After the second assassination, he said, the failure of government cannot be tolerated. He denounced the NCA as an “Assembly of Shame.”
Mourad Amdouni of the People’s Movement, Brahmi’s party, has also resigned, according to Barakati. He also said that other deputies from the Popular Front alliance will be resigning at any time.
More than 100 members of the al-Joumhouri have resigned. They released a press statement asserting that Ennahdha and the political elite failed to assure the democratic transition. The list does not appear to include people holding any official offices or NCA members.
The statement reads in part: “We have a historical responsibility now more than ever to cut with previous political practices. We announce our resignation from all branches of al-Joumhouri. We denounce this atrocious crime that comes after threats from Sahbi Attiq and the assassination of Chokri Belaid without naming the killers. We hold the government fully responsible.”
The statement asks to dissolve the NCA and form a National Salvation Front. It invites people to take to the streets until these demands are fulfilled. “We will work to unite all the democratic powers and to cut all ties with Ennahdha and the Troika,” it says.
The Ministry of Interior will hold a press conference at noon to discuss the Brahmi assassination and the Chokri Belaid case.
Despite the general strike, taxis are still running, although the number on the road appears to be significantly lower than normal.
Thursday, July 25, 2013:
As of 00:45 Bourguiba Avenue was quiet. More demonstrations possible, but nothing happening now.
The Ministry of the Interior will have a press conference tomorrow to announce findings in the Brahmi assassination and new information on the Belaid case, according to their Facebook page.
This will be Thursday’s last post on our live blog. More on this developing story tomorrow.
Crowds have set fire to a police station in Siliana. They are now reportedly heading to the governor’s office building.
Brahmi’s funeral has been confirmed for Saturday. He will be buried next to Chokri Belaid.
During the U.S. Department of State’s daily press briefing, spokesperson Marie Harf stated the U.S. “strongly condemns” the assassination of Brahmi, saying “violence has no place in Tunisia’s democratic transition.” The Department of State is urging the Tunisian government to conduct an immediate and transparent investigation into the murder.
“We call on all Tunisians to renounce violence and to express themselves peacefully,” Harf added.
A source in Sidi Bouzid says that protesters burned two governorate offices today and clashed with police. Tires were also burned in the street and roads blocked.
A source in Siliana tells us that protesters gathered in front of the UGTT labor union office there and then burnt the local Ennahdha office.
Protesters began marching along Habib Bourguiba after 21:00, chanting for the fall of the Ennahdha government. Security forces then stopped protesters approximately half a block away from the Ministry of the Interior, where they then fired tear cas.
Multiple tear gas canisters were initially fired and the crowd fled. When Tunisia Live asked a security forces office why gas was used, he replied that the officers were under orders to fire gas.
Approximately ten minutes after gas was first fired, the sidewalks started to fill up. A small group that appeared to consist of young women chanted “Ghannouchi is an assassin,” while marching towards Bourguiba Avenue from a perpendicular side street. Police fired multiple rounds of tear gas at the group.
Remaining people on the avenue were then angrily told by police to go home.
Tear gas has been deployed by police to disperse protesters on Avenue Bourguiba.
Special Ramadan TV programming has been canceled following Brahmi’s assassination.
Also, all incoming and outgoing Tunisair flights have been canceled for tomorrow in accordance with the general strike called for by the UGTT.
Ennahdha released a new statement. In it they call the intentions of Brahmi’s killers “to destabilize the country, intimate the people, [and] paint us as failed state.”
It goes on to say that the killing was motivated by advances made in the investigation of Chokri Belaid’s assassination. Yesterday, the government announced intentions to name suspects in Belaid’s murder.
Finally, the statement implores for calm.
President Moncef Marzouki spoke on television earlier this evening, saying,
“These people who killed this man, this human being, this Tunisian, this Muslim, they killed him on the 25 July; this is not a coincidence.”
An emergency meeting took place in the prime minister’s office this evening. Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh issued a statement on his Facebook page, condemning Brahmi’s murder and saying that, “the assassination comes at a time when the country is witnessing stability and consensus.”
The statement continues, “this targets the revolution and its achievements and is aimed at exploiting the current situation in Egypt and troubles Tunisia is witnessing to try push us from the right path and into the unknown, whether its chaos, fighting, civil war, or the return of tyranny.
Tamarod, a group formed to overthrow the government and NCA, confirmed to Tunisia Live that they are actively coordinating with many opposition parties in planning protests. Tamarod has earlier refused that it was coordinating with any political parties in its activities.
“Even if Satan had political party, we would meet with him,” said Mahdi Said, a spokesperson for the group.
Protests are going on in Monstair and Sfax in addition to Sidi Bouzid. Sihem Chouour, a reporter for Radio Sfax, said that demonstrators tried to enter the municipal government building but were prevent from doing so by the police. A video shows tear gas used to disperse demonstrators.
Popular Front supporters are handing these flyers out in downtown Tunis. The statement calls for a general strike at Brahmi’s funeral and for peaceful disobedience in all areas of Tunisia until the dissolution of the Troika coalition and the NCA. It also asks parties to immediately consult on forming a salvation government.
During a press conference earlier today, Prime Minister Ali Laaradeyh condemned calls for civil disobedience from opposition political parties.
Updated pictures from downtown Tunis, where around 300 protesters are gathered near the Ministry of Interior building.
Protesters at the Ministry of the Interior say that at 21:00 tonight they will walk to the NCA building in Bardo and hold a sit in until the NCA is dissolved.
Videos taken earlier today by Tunisia Live on Habib Bourguiba avenue, which runs through the center of downtown Tunis.
Here, protesters sing the national anthem. Today is Republic Day, a national holiday in Tunisia.
Protesters also called for confrontation with the government.
Protesters shout “today, today, Ennahdha will fall today”
Protesters at the Mahmoud el Materi hospital, where Brahmi was taken by his wife after the shooting, attempted to bring his body downtown to the Interior Ministry, police prevented them and instead took the body to Charles Nicolle for autopsy, according to Shems FM.
Rached Ghannouchi, president of the ruling Ennahdha on ShemsFM, has said that “political assassinations happen in the most democratic places in the world, and even in the United States.”
As we tweeted earlier, the UGTT has confirmed that a general strike will take place tomorrow in response to Brahmi’s assassination, according to a statement on their Facebook page.
Beji Caid Essebssi, president and founder of Nidaa Tounis and a leader of the opposition, reacted to Brahmi’s murder in an interview with France 24.
He condemned the murder, saying that any outspoken critic of the government are potential targets. Adding that the series of assassinations is unprecedented in Tunisia.
Brahmi’s body has been brought to Charles Nicolle hospital in Tunis for autopsy, according to Zied Mhirsi of Tunisia Live.
” Zied Mhirsi (@zizoo) July 25, 2013
Police forces are blocking the streets leading to Bourguiba Avenue in downtown Tunis.
Hundreds of protesters are gathered downtown calling for the overthrow of the government.
Brahmi’s daughter told Mosaique FM that her father received a phone call immediately before the shooting, after which he ran outside the house towards his car and was shot. The phone is now with investigators.
Two Ennahdha party headquarters and a local government building in the Sidi Bouzid governorate have been attacked and set on fire, according to multiple sources there. The Ennahdha buildings are in the towns of Menzef and Meknassi.
Mosaique Fm has released a video of the crime scene.
The UGTT, Tunisia’s largest labor union, has called for a general strike to take place either tomorrow or the day of Brahmi’s funeral, reported ShemsFM. Past general strikes have taken place following the assassination of Belaid and during the 2011 revolution.
Abu Yaareb Marzouk, a former official in the government of Hamadi Jebali and a political analyst, reacted to Brahmi’s assassination to Tunisia Live:
“Now Ennahda and even the political parties from the left need to be united because the killer is not Ennahdha… it's someone from the former regime, who wants to destabilize the country and lead it into chaos. They want people from the left to think they are targeted by the Islamists, however this could not be possible because any political party that wants to win the elections would not do it.”
“As for what happens tomorrow, it is perfectly understandable as long as it's peaceful. If it's violent, however, then it is unacceptable,” he added.
Opposition party the Popular Front has released a statement on their Facebook page, calling “on the free citizens of Tunisia to regroup and demonstrate to show their loyalty to the martyr, the leader in Popular Front Mohamed Brahmi.
They further demanded the overthrow of the “Muslim Brotherhood” government, drawing a parallel to the deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in addition to the dissolution of the NCA and the formation of a national salvation government.
Osama Al Saghir, a member of the ruling Ennahdha party and NCA member, told Tunisia Live:
What happened is a serious issue, the responsibility of which falls on all political parties as this assassination is an assassination of the democratic transition itself. Adding, the names of Belaid's killers should be revealed soon. Referring to the opposition leader killed in February.
He further stated, the people behind this assassination are the people who are against freedom of expression and against the progress that Tunisia has been making. The country has reached a stage of improvement. Now Brahmi stands as a symbol for the transition period and democracy that has been attacked.
Three to four hundred people have gathered in front of the Ministry of the Interior building in downtown Tunis.
Demonstrators called Rached Ghannouchi, president of Ennahdha party, a murder.
Members of the opposition party the Popular Front in front of the ministry building called for civil disobedience, the fall of the government and led protesters in chanting degage, or “leave” in French, which is the same slogan used during the 2011 revolution.
Protesters also told Tunisia Live that they intended to bring Brahmi's body from the hospital to the demonstration.
Sources in Sidi Bouzid, the hometown of assassinated NCA member Mohamed Brahmi, confirm that hundreds have gathered in the streets, blocking the roads, demanding the truth regarding Brahmi’s death, the overthrow of the government and the dissolution of the NCA.
The ruling Ennahda party has released the following statement on their Facebook page:
“ªŽTunisia¬’s Presidency calls on all Tunisians not to fall into the trap laid by criminals to cause in-fighting and violence instead of national consensus and peaceful alternation, and calls on all the political class to be aware that those who treacherously shot Mohamed Brahmi wanted to target the entire democratic process and push the country into a cycle of violence and chaos.”
Rached Ghannouchi, the president of the Ennahdha party, also released a statement.
“We heard, with immense sadness and shock, the news of the assassination of politician and member of the national constituent assembly Mohamed Brahmi, today. We condemn this cowardly and despicable crime. We pray for the soul of martyr Mohamed Brahmi and present our sincere condolences to his family, praying that God grants them patience.
“We call on the government and the interior ministry to urgently arrest those who committed this crime and reveal those behind them who have targeted the stability of the country.
“We further call on all political parties to show responsibility and restraint at this sensitive time.”
Hataib Baraketi, a member of the Workers’ Party, a part of the Popular Front and member of the NCA, reacted to Brahmi’s assassination to Tunisia Live:
“This is the second assassination six months after the killing of Chokri Belaid and still the ministries and the government have not revealed the identity of the killers.” Adding that the killing occurred “after the Republic Day speeches given by the president, prime minister, and speaker of the NCA, which called for agreement and harmony. This incident shows that the discourse does not reflect reality.”
Today is Republic Day in Tunisia, a national holiday commemorating the declaration of the Tunisian Republic.
“I was not surprised, however, by the second assassination because we have been reading calls on Facebook for the murder of opposition figures for weeks by people who claim they are defending legitimacy. When you kill people, what legitimacy are you talking about?”
Mosaique FM is reporting that two witnesses say that the shooting occurred around midday, calling the scene “horrific.” His wife and daughter are said to have witnessed the killing but are unharmed, according to the BBC.
The station earlier reported that two men on a motorcycle shot Brahmi in front of his home. This matches the description of the February assassination of Chokri Belaid.
Hamadi Jebali, the former prime minister, commented to Mosaique FM:
“This is the second episode in a series of assassinations,” adding “the assassination is a conspiracy and a clear message that there are sides insisting on bringing the country into a critical situation.”
Photos from the hospital where Brahmi was taken:
Brahmi’s wife, speaking to Mosaique FM, said on her husband’s death:
“He died as a martyr to his opinion and position,” adding that “he was killed by a terrorist gang.”
“I, and my children, have lost him,” she said.
Mustapha Ben Jaafar, the speaker of the National Constituent Assembly, has announced in a press conference that “protection will be given to political figures, especially those in the public eye.”
He also added that tomorrow will be a national day of mourning.
“We will achieve the goals that the people have sent us here for,” Jaafar said.
that tomorrow will be a national day of mourning in a press conference.
Ahmed Seddik, a leader of the Popular Front party, commented to Tunisian radio station Mosaique FM:
“Ennahdha party is a failure, they did not reveal Chokri Belaid’s murder and they are not able to stop the series of political assassinations.
(13:30) Opposition NCA member Najla Bourriel, a member of the Democratic Bloc, commented to Tunisia Live:
“This is the biggest catastrophe that could happen in Tunisia. We have now had a series of political assassinations of anyone with a different, loud voice.”
(13:20) Protesters and police clashed at the Ministry of Interior. Police dispersed protesters with tear gas.