The year 2013 was a rough year for Tunisia: two political assassinations, protests, military and security forces targeted by armed groups and a never ending political crisis.
On February 6, Chokri Belaid a leading member of the opposition and a staunch critic of Tunisia's Islamists was gunned down outside his home. His family accused the ruling Islamist party Ennahdha Movement, while the government laid the blame on Ansar al-Sharia.
As news of Belaid's assassination spread, protesters took to the streets of Tunisia, clashing with police and torching Ennahdha offices.
On Republic Day [July 25], anti-government protests had once again rocked the country following a second assassination in the span of less than six months. Mohamed Brahmi, an opposition member at the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) was gunned down outside his home in broad day light. Brahmi's family and the opposition also blamed Ennahdha. The latter denied any involvement.
Following Brahmi's assassination, rival protests were held and Tunisia plunged into a political crisis that lasted for months.
In 2013, Tunisia had also witnessed an increase in armed militancy targeting armed and security forces. Throughout the year, Tunisian authorities had been hunting for armed groups in the mountainous area of Chaambi, some 290 kilometers from the capital Tunis, where mine explosions left several injuries and deaths among the military and police.
On July 30, eights soldiers were killed in an ambush in Chaambi, leaving the nation in shock.
In late August, the Tunisian government listed Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia (AST) as a “terrorist organization”, blaming it for the assassination of Belaid and Brahmi and linking it to armed groups operating on Mount Chaambi. AST is a radical Islamist group demanding the implementation of Islamic law in Tunisia.
In October, eight security officers had also been killed during clashes with gunmen in Sidi Ali Ben Aoun (province of Sidi Bouzid) and Gboullat (province of Beja). During the same month, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a beach in the resort city of Sousse. The suicide bomber only killed himself and left no deaths or injuries.
As 2013 was coming to an end, Mehdi Jomma, the Industry Minister in the current three-party coalition government, was nominated as the new PM, following talks between the opposition and the government.
Meanwhile, the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) is set to adopt a constitution and put in place an election board tasked with organizing presidential and parliamentary elections in mid January. Will 2014 bring an end to Tunisia's political crisis and crown a three-year long democratic transition with free and fair elections? Only time will tell.