Islamists to rule Tunisia; clashes in cradle of revolt

Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:09pm GMT

By Tarek Amara and Christian Lowe

TUNIS (Reuters) - The leader of the Islamist party which won Tunisia's first free election appealed for calm in the town where the "Arab Spring" began, accusing forces linked to the ousted president of fanning violence there.

Party officials said coalition talks were already under way and they expected to form a new government within 10 days.

Troops fired in the air on Friday to disperse a crowd attacking government offices in Sidi Bouzid, where 10 months ago vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in a protest that ignited revolts around the Arab world.

The Ennahda party, which was banned for decades and its leaders forced to flee abroad, will lead Tunisia's new government after an election victory likely to set a template for other Middle Eastern states rocked by uprisings this year.

Ennahda has tried to reassure secularists by stressing it will not impose a Muslim moral code.

It will not impose the wearing of the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, on women because all attempts to do that in other Arab states have failed, the party's leader said on Friday.

Rachid Ghannouchi said women would have jobs in the new government "whether they wear a veil or don't wear a veil".

Ennahda would honour an undertaking to finish writing a new constitution within one year, he said at his first news conference since the election. It would respect all Tunisia's international treaties when it forms a new government.   Continued...

Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement,  gestures to supporters after the announcement of the country's election results outside his headquarters in Tunis October 27, 2011.  REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
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