Tunisia’s interim government has refused to legalise five political parties, including three Islamic ones.

The Interior Ministry said on 12 March that the applying parties had not adhered to a law requiring parties to be organised democratically and banning those created on the basis of religion, ethnicity, gender or region.

Among those parties denied legalisation included the Assalam (peace) party; a Sunni Muslim party and Hizb Ettahrir (Liberation party), which has ties to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. The government has also now fully dissolved the RCD, which was the ruling party of former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Tunisian authorities have also arrested three close allies of Ben Ali, including Abdallah Kallel, Abdelaziz Ben Dhia and Abdelwaheb Abdallah. The men were detained on suspicion of illegally obtaining money and other alleged crimes.

Clashes between police and protesters broke out in the mining town of Metlaoui on 11 March, killing two people and injuring about 20 others. This latest protest broke out as Ben Ali’s brother-in-law was sentenced to prison on the same day for deceiving customs authorities.

Mohamed Naceur Trabelsi is the brother of former first lady Leila Trabelsi, whose family monopolised several industries and was deeply resented by many Tunisians.

Voting for a council of representatives will take place by 24 July (MEED 6:3:11).