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Friday 22 August 2014

Tunisia outlaws vigilante group

Published 26/05/2014 | 22:42

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A Tunisian court has outlawed a group linked to the government,

A Tunisian court today ordered the dissolution of the League for the Protection of the Revolution, a vigilante group formed after the 2011 overthrow of the country's dictatorship.

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Secular and liberal political parties had long accused the league, which was close to the Islamist Ennahda Party, of attacking the rallies of rival parties and intimidating opponents.

Court spokesman Sofiane Selliti said the organisation had violated laws governing associations and that its headquarters and 20 branches around the country will be closed.

Formed in 2012, the group at its height claimed thousands of members and its stated goal was to seek out members of Tunisia's old regime and protect what it called the gains of the revolution.

It often held rallies in support of Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that was long oppressed by dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and then later went on to dominate the parliamentary elections after the revolution.

The league always denied any wrongdoing but an opposition leader died at one of its rallies in the southern city of Tatouine in 2012. His supporters said he was beaten to death but the cause of death was ruled a heart attack.

Supporters of the league also clashed with members of the main labour union in December 2012 outside the union's headquarters during a rally.

Despite mounting calls for its dissolution, the league had powerful backers in the Islamist-led coalition government that continued to support it.

The Ennahda-led government eventually stepped aside, however, when a political crisis erupted after Islamist extremists assassinated a second left-wing politician in July 2013.

As part of the agreement to bring in an interim government to supervise new elections in 2014, secular parties insisted that the League to Protect the Revolution be dissolved.

Press Association

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