Tunisia fails again to agree on new PM

2013-11-04 16:17


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tunis - Tunisian political leaders were to meet on Monday in a new bid to choose a prime minister after missing two deadlines to bridge their differences and resolve months of deadlock.

The powerful UGTT trade union mediating the talks said delegates from the ruling Islamist party Ennahda and the opposition were going to fail to meet a noon deadline and would convene again later in the day.

Tensions have gripped Tunisia since veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in the 2011 uprising, and were exacerbated by the murders of opposition politicians Chokri Belaid in February and Mohamed Brahmi in July.

The two sides opened hard-won talks on 25 October to form a government of independents, draft a much-delayed constitution and prepare for elections as part of a roadmap with a strict timetable.

Under the plan, a new prime minister was to have been named on Saturday, a week after the talks began, but when that failed to eventuate a new deadline was set for Monday noon.

But they were again unable to overcome their differences and fresh talks to agree on a new premier were to begin in the afternoon, the UGTT said, without specifying when an announcement could be expected.

Politicians said the negotiators have been unable to decide between two candidates: opposition-backed 79-year-old Mohamed Ennaceur, and Ahmed Mestiri, an 88-year-old supported by Ennahda and its allies.

Both are well respected and served under the late Habib Bourguiba, who led the fight for Tunisia's independence from its French colonial masters and served as its first president for three decades from 1957.

The opposition says Mestiri is weak and would be a puppet in the hands of Ennahda.

Tensions remain high

"Ennahda wants to exit power from the front door and come back through the window," leftist leader Hamma Hammami said.

Ennahda spokesperson Ziad Laadhari retorted that Mestiri was the right man because "he strikes a balance between the two sides".

The opposition and the government say Islamist radicals, oppressed under Ben Ali and whose influence has grown since the uprising, are behind the killings and deadly attacks targeting mostly security forces.

The opposition has demanded the government's resignation and the formation of a cabinet of independents, accusing the current line-up headed by the moderate Ennahda of failing to rein in jihadists.

After months of stalling, Ennahda opened talks with the opposition on 25 October in line with the roadmap.

Prime Minister Ali Larayedh has said he will step down so long as the timetable is respected

But some fear the repeated delays will effectively spell the end of dialogue between the two sides.

"If the much-awaited solution is not found today, should we expect the dialogue to be suspended?" the French-language daily La Presse asked on Monday.

Tensions remain high in the North African country where security was stepped up this week following two botched suicide attacks in tourist resorts, and the killing of nine policemen in October.

The government has linked Tunisia's armed jihadists to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, but says that it lacks the resources to combat them.

On Sunday the presidency ordered an eight-month extension of a state of emergency which has been renewed repeatedly since the 2011 uprising.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  zine el abidine ben ali  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


5 top leg exercises for men

Here’s our selection of the five best leg exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home.


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content this holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
How to open a beer bottle without an opener
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.