Tunisia Opposition Gives Rulers Ultimatum

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from The Wall Street Journal,

TUNISIA-mourners carry body of policeman

Tunisia’s opposition gave the ruling Ennahda party a Friday morning deadline to resign or face broader protests, while demonstrations throughout the country turned violent, with antigovernment activists setting Ennahda offices on fire.

The National Salvation Front, a coalition of opposition parties, called on more of its supporters to step up a campaign of civil disobedience, which on Thursday involved a general strike in two cities, if the government remains.

Some in the opposition, including the country’s largest labor group, the Tunisian General Labor Union, have stayed on the sidelines, hoping the conflict could be resolved with dialogue.

In a troubling sign that the country was slipping further out of government control, the National Guard Union, representing police, also took to the streets Thursday, mourning the deaths of eight officers killed in clashes with militants the day before.

The police were joined by thousands of students, who marched on two Ennahda offices and burned them to the ground in separate cities outside the capital of Tunis as police stood by. Ennahda blamed students.

If the National Guard Union carries out a planned protest for increased wages and support, observers say that could provide added pressure the opposition needs to topple the government.

For a second straight day on Thursday, protests continued, while students from the liberal student union clashed with supporters of Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that governs Tunisia.

Tunisia’s latest turmoil began after Ennahda’s Prime Minister Ali Larayedh failed to uphold promises to resign on Wednesday and surrender power to a transitional government that would adopt a road map toward a new constitution, a new electoral law and a new election within six months.

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