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Union protesters call for Tunisia govt to resign

Around 3,000 protesters march in Tunis calling for government's resignation as tensions mount between country's main union and Islamist ruling party

AFP, Saturday 25 Feb 2012
Logo of The Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT)
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More than 3,000 protesters rallied in Tunisia's capital on Saturday to call for the country's moderate Islamist government to resign after accusations that ruling party activists had defaced union offices.

The protesters demonstrated outside the headquarters of the country's main UGTT union, chanting "The people want the government's fall" and "Hands off my UGTT", before marching through the centre of Tunis.

Activists from the liberal Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), centre-left Ettajdid movement and the Tunisian Communist Party joined the protest, which came after the union said the ruling Ennahda party was behind the dumping of rubbish outside several of its offices on Tuesday.

"They want to make us shut up so they can have a monopoly and decide our fate alone, but we will never bend and never surrender," UGTT Secretary General Houcine Abassi told the protesters.

The demonstration highlighted continued tensions as Ennahda seeks to consolidate support, continue democratic reforms and revive the economy after last year's peaceful ouster of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

It came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the country and pledged continued US backing to help Tunisia rebuild its economy and cement democracy.

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