Tunisia set to unveil new government

2013-03-08 12:46


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Tunis - Tunisian Prime Minister-designate Ali Larayedh was set to unveil a new government on Friday after two weeks of negotiations on the team tasked with leading the country out of its political crisis.

Late on Thursday, Larayedh announced that his Islamist party Ennahda, which dominated the outgoing coalition, had reached an agreement with two secular coalition partners on the distribution of the posts.

All that remained was to add a "final touch" before presenting the cabinet to President Moncef Marzouki ahead of Friday's deadline, he said.

"God willing, the next government will be the government of all Tunisians."

Tunisia was thrust into crisis in February, when a leader of the Popular Front opposition coalition, Chokri Belaid, was assassinated.

His family and supporters accused Ennahda over his death, which followed a wave of attacks by pro-government militia against opposition parties, independent media and cultural symbols.

To calm tensions, former prime minister Hamadi Jebali offered to form an apolitical government, but Ennahda rebuffed the proposal, prompting Jebali to resign.

Ennahda named Interior Minister Larayedh to replace him.

But he too struggled to bridge the divide between the Islamist and secular camps.

As a result, the new government will not be as inclusive as had been hoped.

Three parties pulled out of the negotiations, leaving Ennahda with the two parties with which it has governed since December 2011 - Marzouki's Congress for the Republic and the Ettakatol party of Constituent Assembly president Mustapha Ben Jaafar.

Where the new government is expected to differ from the last is in the appointment of independents to key ministries, such as the justice portfolio, that were previously held by Ennahda.

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