Two and a half years since its Jasmine Revolution triggered a wave of popular uprisings across the Arab world, Tunisia has been on a promising path to democracy and near to finalizing a new constitution. That is, until earlier this week when officials abruptly announced a full suspension of the constitutional assembly, a move precipitated by the persistent demonstrations organized by the opposition, which has been vociferously calling for the Islamist-led government to step down. Now that the opposition has successfully exerted enough activist pressure to halt the political process, political actors should seize this opportunity for reflection. Now is not the time to call for a dismantling of the government. Albeit far from perfect, it is a manifestation of Tunisia’s transitional progress thus far. Now is the time to establish an open channel of communication to air grievances and take corrective measures to ensure the political process advances in a healthy, inclusive manner.

In the few days since the assassination of Mohamed Brahmi, the second secular leader to be fatally targeted in 2013, tensions in Tunisia have reached an all-time high. Now, the consensus-building atmosphere between Ennahda and secular parties has evaporated. These relationships have become polarized and divisive, as Ennahda is held responsible for not keeping a check on hardliner Salafists presumed to be behind the assassinations. With the latest announcement of the suspension of the constitutional assembly and the powerful labor union UGTT throwing its weight behind the opposition, secularists feel that the tide is turning in their favor. Led by Nidaa Tounes, they have maintained their presence in the streets, calling for the Islamist-led coalition government to resign, although without offering much of an alternative plan. Ennahda supporters and activists countered with demonstrations supporting the current government. In the midst of the disruptions, sixty members of the National Constituent Assembly to date have suspended their participation. Ennahda issued a statement on August 7 accepting the decision to suspend the constituent assembly and urging talks to form a national unity government. (That has not stopped some members within Ennahda’s ranks from branding the latest developments as a coup.)

The challenge for Tunisians is to focus on their political process, in some ways isolating themselves from the adrenaline surrounding events elsewhere in the region. Comparisons are being made between Tunisia and Egypt, where a military-led coup was supported by a large portion of the population. It has indeed seemed at times that Tunisia’s secularists, unhappy with the constitutional drafting process and growing impatient as they look in from the outside, hope to capitalize on the events underway in Egypt. The military-backed transitional government in Egypt said it will not engage supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, but Tunisia’s secular leaders should not make this same mistake.

Tunisia’s Islamists are keenly aware of what is happening next door and fear how it may reverberate in their own country. Nidaa Tounes and others should ensure that the message is not that Islamists stand little chance of ever regaining the upper hand politically once they are ousted or leave power. While the Tunisian context is unique and does not allow for exact comparisons, events in Egypt are raising anxieties among the Islamists who may entrench themselves (“give the opposition an inch and they take a mile”) and emboldening secularists who may perceive the suspension of the constitutional assembly as an affirmation of their legitimate demands. The net effect is that the space for moderates on both sides to find common ground is narrowing.

The Egyptian opposition’s popular coup sets a negative precedent that threatens to undermine the fundamental value of making one’s voice heard through civic activism and voting. Secularists in the region will need more time to build their organizational capacity and outreach to win elections, but that is what the democratic process is about. The Tunisian opposition’s grievances ought to be heard – mostly to ensure that the constitution and other institutions consider and protect those who have not yet translated their support into electoral strongholds. Instead of seeking to mirror what is happening in Egypt, Tunisians would do well to remember that they led the Arab Spring and have the capacity to set a positive precedent. Calling for the current government to step down would be a setback and in no way guarantee that the next round would produce a landscape more favorable to democratic pluralism.

Confidence-building measures between the political players provide the best chance to address Tunisians’ dissatisfaction with the transitional period. The current government should form an independent committee to investigate the Mohamed Brahmi’s assassination (it has yet to make any arrests, despite revealing that the weapon used in Brahmi’s assassination was the same as that which killed opposition leader Chokri Belaid back in February 2013); this would go a long way to demonstrating its commitment to the security of all citizens, fighting a culture of impunity over which Tunisians rebelled. If the Ennahda-led government can complement its rhetorical openness to dialogue with an active commitment to upholding justice, it stands a chance at regaining the trust and confidence of the population. The opposition, having now successfully lobbied for the constitutional process to be halted, must now make its demands known. If dialogue is not given a chance in good faith, then each side will throw its hands up in frustration, framing the unfolding of events as one in which they did all they could but were met with obstinacy by the other side.

Despite the increasing tensions, Tunisians could still demonstrate how secularists and Islamists can coexist peacefully within a democratic framework, advancing their agenda through the ballot box, not by undermining one another in a cycle that will only hinder the democratic transition. Such tactics would only exacerbate tensions among an increasingly impatient population who wish to see a better future. The cradle of the Arab Spring has made great strides thus far in fulfilling the promise of its Jasmine Revolution. With so much volatility in the other countries experiencing change, the international community could use a success story, one that has a positive effect on its neighbors. It is time to double-down in support of Tunisia before the distrust that has thus far characterized the political crisis grows too entrenched to bring together the moderate voices. International efforts should encourage and help facilitate a dialogue between all sides to resolve outstanding issues. Rebuilding confidence among the key political actors may take more time, especially when one thinks about how quickly the former regimes were toppled, but that is an essential part of the democratic process that Tunisia and all the other countries in the region must experience.

Lara Talverdian is the assistant director for research with the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East where she researches the political transitions in North Africa.