World Bulletin / News Desk
Tunisia's ruling Ennahda rejected on Monday a proposal under which they would step down pending elections, a decision likely to deepen confrontation with opponents demanding their immediate resignation.
Tunisia, whose 2011 uprising was the first of a series across the Arab world, has been in turmoil since an opposition leader was assassinated in July, threatening a democratic transition once seen as the most promising in a troubled region.
The country's powerful UGTT union had been pushing both sides to accept a plan for the government to step down after three weeks of talks to decide on a date for elections and the composition of a new caretaker administration.
But the Ennahda party called on Monday for more guarantees on the election date and said an assembly writing a new constitution should finish its work before the government agreed to relinquish power.
"We have said that this government would not step down concretely before the completion of the constitution," Rafik Abd Essalem, a senior Ennahda official, told reporters.
Frustrated at lack of progress, the UGTT labour union on Sunday threatened to mobilize protests to pressure the government to accept the proposal that it should step down to make way for a transition cabinet.
"We cannot accept the threat of pressure from the streets," said Ennahda vice president Adb el Hamid Jelassi. "There should be more guarantees."
A National Assembly writing the country's constitution had almost completed its work before it was suspended a month ago over the political crisis. Deputies got back to work last week though most opposition members stayed away.Last Mod: 23 Eylül 2013, 17:32