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Tunisia press sceptical on eve of crisis talks

Ennahda and the secular opposition agreed to launc talks drafted by the UGTT the employers' organisation Utica, the Tunisian League for Human Rights and the bar association

AFP , Friday 4 Oct 2013
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The Tunisian press voiced scepticism Friday on the eve of crisis talks between ruling Islamists and their secular rivals following the July assassination of a prominent opposition MP.

The two sides have been bitterly divided in the two months since the killing of Mohamed Brahmi, with secularists accusing the moderate Islamist Ennahda party of failing to curb extremists in the birthplace of the 2011 Arab Spring.

"Tunisians are hanging on the words of political actors, protagonists in a national dialogue... Will this dialogue lead to a saving solution?" asked the francophone Le Quotidien.

"It's like watching a Mexican soap opera, but without the romance," it quipped of the two-month-long stand-off.

The national dialogue set to begin Saturday "represents the last hope of escaping this impasse", read an editorial in the Arabic-language Maghreb, which urged politicians to "set aside their partisan interests and hoist the flag of the nation".

"At last they have agreed to agree" on holding negotiations, read a mocking headline in the Arabic Achourouk newspaper.

Earlier this week Ennahda and the secular opposition agreed to a blueprint for talks drafted by the country's main trade union, the UGTT, the employers' organisation Utica, the Tunisian League for Human Rights and the bar association.

The roadmap sets a three-week deadline to form a cabinet of independents to replace the government, after the launch of a dialogue with opposition parties.

It also sets a four-week deadline for adopting a new electoral law, announcing a timetable for fresh elections and completing a long-delayed draft constitution.

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