Tunisia PM warns opposition over anti-government demos

Tunisia's prime minister warned Tuesday that he would not tolerate any attacks on state institutions during planned protests to call for his Islamist-led government's resignation, state media reported.

"Ali Larayedh said there would be no hesitation or restraint faced with those who by terrorism, anarchy or rebellion carried out attacks on institutions of the state," the official TAP news agency said.

He was commenting on the week-long protests which the opposition are planning to hold.

Tunisia was plunged into crisis last month by the assassination of opposition MP Mohamed Brahmi, with a coalition of opposition factions calling for the formation of a non-partisan national unity government.

Larayedh's ruling Islamist Ennahda party has rejected the call.

The opposition National Salvation Front group plans to step up its campaign with nationwide protests demanding the coalition government step down, with what it has dubbed a "week of rage" from Saturday.

The planned rallies come amid political turmoil in Egypt where the army's decision last week to forcefully disperse supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi from the streets of Cairo left hundreds dead.

A leading figure in Tunisia's loose opposition group, Hamma Hammami, insisted at a press conference on Tuesday that the planned protests would be peaceful.

"We have not called for violence... just for peaceful sit-ins to get rid of the coalition in power and of officials appointed for their political affiliations and not their competence."

He said the opposition coalition would continue its protest campaign, adding that the authorities would be to blame for any violence.

Islamist officials in Tunisia have accused the opposition of trying to repeat what happened in Egypt, where Morsi's ouster in a July 3 popularly-backed military coup unleashed a wave of deadly violence and repression, notably of the deposed president's Islamist supporters.

The Tunisian opposition charges Ennahda has failed to take strong enough action against Muslim extremists accused of murdering Brahmi and another prominent secular politician, Chokri Belaid, in February.

But it also accuses the Islamist party of failing to improve the economic situation, a key criticism levelled against Morsi by millions of Egyptians who took to the streets before the coup calling for his resignation.