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      Tunisia: Protesters Torch Office of Islamist Ruling Party

      The office of Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party in the town of Kef torched by angry protesters, as unrest in the country continues.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 10/25/2013, 2:12 AM

      Protesters call for the departure of the Islamist-led coalition in Tunisia
      Protesters call for the departure of the Islamist-led coalition in Tunisia
      Reuters

      The office of Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party in the town of Kef was torched by angry protesters on Thursday, AFP reports.

      The walls of the building were burned and equipment inside it destroyed, with witnesses saying that protesters had ransacked the office in the morning.

      The remains of charred documents and tires were strewn in the road outside the building, occupied on the second floor by the ruling Ennahda movement.

      The office is located just meters from the family home of one of six policemen killed on Wednesday in a firefight with suspected jihadists, according to Al Arabiya.

      Meanwhile, one of Tunisia’s main opposition parties said that they would not take part in negotiations to end months of political deadlock without a written pledge from the government to quit power.

      “Nidaa Tounes believes it is not feasible for the dialogue to begin...without a formal and written commitment by the government to resign,” said the party headed by ex-premier Beji Caid Essebsi, who is an outspoken critic of ruling Islamist party Ennahda, according to Al Arabiya.

      The opposition demands that the country’s Ennahda-led government commit to resign from power within three weeks of the start of talks, in order to make way for a interim cabinet of independents.

      Negotiations were due to start on Wednesday, facing fresh delays when critics of Islamist Prime Minister Ali Larayedh rejected his stated commitment to the “principle” of stepping down as “ambiguous.”

      Exactly two years ago, Tunisians elected the moderate Islamist Ennahda party in the country's first free and competitive elections. It formed a government in alliance with two secular parties.

      The vote followed the overthrow of long-ruling strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the first revolt of the Arab Spring.

      Since then, the country has been unstable, as Tunisians have accused Ennahda of turning a blind eye to the activities of more radical Islamist groups.

      Last month, Ennahda agreed in principle to relinquish power, in an effort to end Tunisia's political deadlock.

      The crisis was triggered by the assassinations of two secular opposition leaders earlier this year.