Six killed in standoff between security forces and Islamist militants days before Tunisia holds elections, as it tries to consolidate transition to democracy. Mana Rabiee reports.
Gunfire is no way to go into an election. But there it was in Tunisia on Friday on the outskirts of the capitol Tunis, two days before parliamentary elections. Six people were killed in a standoff between security forces and an Islamist militant group...The latest violence in the government's ongoing "low-intensity" conflict with militants that threaten the country's transition to democracy. An Interior Ministry spokesman says there's "no way" the government will let the militants disrupt the election process Sunday. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) TUNISIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY SPOKESMAN, MOHAMMED ALI AROUI, SAYING: "On election day we will call on all citizens and Tunisian people to let them know that our security forces from the army and national guard with all its weapons, prisons, and administrative institutions, are ready for this electoral process. Tunis is going to be fine with the will of God." It's been four years since an uprising ousted a president and inspired the "Arab Spring" revolts. But Tunisia has yet to deliver on the promise of economic growth and opportunity. In the western town of Kasserine, where olive and fruit farming normally reign, unemployment is twice the national average -- at nearly 30 percent. Young people post their resumes on walls...where only election posters really ought to be. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) KASSERINE RESIDENT, MOHAMMED ALNASSROI, SAYING: "Nothing has changed, the thirsty are still thirsty. There are no streets, unemployment is high, and all young men with high education just end up sitting in cafes all day." Despite economic malaise among voters, officials say there's consensus among the various parties on the need for swift economic reform. Tunisians are hoping Sunday's vote will consolidate democracy in their country. They inspired their neighbors to revolt and want to finally taste the fruits of their own uprising.