Tunisian secularists submit motion of no-confidence in president

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 17, 2013 12:45 PM
Tunisian secularists submit motion of no-confidence in president

TUNIS (Reuters) - Secular lawmakers have submitted a motion of no-confidence in Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki after he criticized "secular extremists", a lawmaker said on Wednesday.

Tension has been growing between Islamists and secularists since the Islamist Ennahda Movement won an election after an uprising in 2011 that toppled the autocratic Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring.

Marzouki, himself a secularist elected president under a power-sharing deal with Ennahda, told Al Jazeera television last month that if "secular extremists" came to power, they could spark a bloody revolution in which they would be hanged.

The remarks, just weeks after the assassination of secular politician Chokri Belaid brought thousands onto the streets, sparked outrage among the secular opposition, which said Marzouki was no longer president of all Tunisians.

Marzouki has also criticized hardline Islamists, and a presidential spokesman said his comments had been taken out of context as part of a campaign against him.

Member of parliament Ali Ben Chrifa told the state news agency that the motion had been submitted with 77 signatures.

By law, the vote must be held within two weeks. The motion is unlikely to pass, because Marzouki can count on majority support from Ennahda and two non-religious parties among the 217 members of parliament, but a sizeable showing could embarrass the government.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Kevin Liffey)