Tunisia’s transitional government will ward off any attempts to disrupt public order, Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi vowed.

By Monia Ghanmi for Magharebia in Tunis – 07/09/11

Tunisian police are now banned from joining unions “given the danger that such activity represents for the security of the country”, Interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi announced on Tuesday (September 6th).

“Many dangerous things happened in this country and that concerns all its citizens,” he said. Caid Essebsi announced a host of measures to restore security following recent clashes that left at least two people dead in the southwest and spurred a curfew on Sbeïtla.

The caretaker prime minister added the transitional government would “strictly” apply the state of emergency and prohibit “all demonstrations, all strikes and all meetings that could affect the security of the country”. He authorized the interim prime minister to “place under house arrest any person known for activities affecting internal security”.

The announcement came amid renewed riots in the Tunis Kasbah. Scores of angry security servicemen protested accusations that they killed protestors during the January 14th revolution. Twenty-three officers have been arrested on charges of killing demonstrators.

Police pressed for the dismissal of Interior Minister Habib Essid, Public Security Director Taoufik Dimassi and National Security Director Nabil Abid. The demonstrators also called for adopting a legal framework that would guarantee the protection of security agents. Several security centers were set alight last week, causing the union of internal security forces to call for a strike on Monday.

The speech caused resentment among police officers, who continued their protests.

“This was a very harsh speech that has greatly offended the entire security community,” Habib Jlassi, secretary-general of the special anti-terrorist brigade. “We didn’t expect that the number one official in government would describe us as monkeys. Therefore, we will continue our protests to demand the prime minister to apologize and to defend our rights and dignity.”

On the subject of political transition, Caid Essebsi reiterated the government’s obligation to safeguard the revolution.

“The revolution doesn’t mean chaos,” he said. “It is the government that is defending the revolution, while the rest are trying to take advantage of it, but we won’t allow them to do so.”

“The elections will take place on October 23,” the prime minister added. “Our aim is to ensure that a transparent and free poll takes place for the first time in this country.”

Caid Essebsi evoked the possibility of holding a referendum to specify the tasks and powers of the constituent assembly.

The idea must “be discussed in the cabinet, and the president of state is the one who can take such a decision”, he said. “However, I don’t exclude this step; it’s possible, but we have to consult with all parties.”

While some political parties, including the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), support the idea, others dismiss it as an attempt to circumvent the revolution.

The Constituent Assembly, which will be democratically elected, will be a sovereign entity and will appoint the executive power, said Communist Labor Party chief Hamma Hammami. Therefore, the idea of organizing a referendum simultaneously with the October 23rd vote is unreasonable, he added.

Source: Magharebia.
Link: http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2011/09/07/feature-04.