First Published: 2013-02-20

 

Marzouki holds talks with Ghannouchi to cooks up new cabinet

 

Tunisia president holds urgent talks with leader of Ennahda party, Ghannouchi in bid to steer Tunisia out of crisis.

 

Middle East Online

By Antoine Lambroschini – TUNIS

Another Ennahda-led government

President Moncef Marzouki was holding urgent talks on Wednesday with political leaders in a bid to steer Tunisia out of a weeks-long crisis exacerbated by the resignation of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali.

Marzouki was meeting in the morning with leader of the Islamist ruling Ennahda party, Rached Ghannouchi, and later with Maya Jribi of the opposition Republican party, his office said.

Tunisia was plunged into its worst political crisis since the 2011 Arab Spring revolt that ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali when leftist politician Chokri Belaid was shot dead outside his home in Tunis on February 6.

Though no one claimed responsibility, Belaid's family accused Ennahda of being behind the killing, which the party vehemently denied.

The killing did little to ease the misgivings of liberals and secularists who believe Ennahda is failing to rein in religious extremists threatening the stability of the country.

Belaid's murder also sparked deadly street protests as well as strikes, which Jebali attempted to defuse by announcing plans for a non-partisan cabinet of technocrats to lead Tunisia into early elections.

The proposal quickly foundered and Jebali received a final rebuff by his own Ennahda party on Monday, prompting him the following day to carry out his threat to resign if he failed to win sufficient support.

Late on Tuesday he announced the resignation, saying he had failed in a last-ditch effort to push for "another solution" to the long-running crisis in a meeting with Marzouki.

Ghannouchi, whose Ennahda party dominates the national assembly, will be asked by Marzouki to nominate a new prime minister. Names being mentioned are those of Health Minister Abdelatif Mekki and Justice Minister Noureddine Bhiri.

Jribi's opposition Republican party, meanwhile, has in recent days made it clear it is ready to support a cabinet comprising a mix of politicians and technocrats.

The 63-year-old Jebali had said he was convinced a non-political team was "the best way to save the country from wandering off track."

Analysts said it is possible Marzouki will ask Jebali to try again to form a government.

But Jebali said he would not sign on again with "any initiative that does not fix a date for new elections. What about the constitution? What about elections?"

As well as the row over the new government, there is deadlock over the drafting of a constitution, with parliament divided over the nature of Tunisia's future political system 15 months after it was elected.

The prospect of Jebali carrying on is "on the table, but we still have to discuss it, and there are several competent people in the event he refuses," said Ennahda parliamentary bloc chief Sahbi Attig.

Jebali's plans had been bitterly opposed by Ennahda hardliners, represented by Ghannouchi, who refused to give up key portfolios and insist on Ennahda's electoral legitimacy.

The Islamists control the interior, foreign and justice ministries and dominate the national assembly.

The political deadlock has left the country paralysed.

"Everything has stopped. The problem is that nobody thinks about the general interest but only of their special interests," a government official .

Since the revolution, Tunisia has also been rocked by violence blamed on radical Salafists, and ongoing social unrest over the government's failure to improve poor living conditions.

 

Serious challenges for Arab leaders in Amman

US, allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Tributes flood in for anti-apartheid hero Ahmed Kathrada

Tunisians demand Muslim marriage decree revoked

Historic Casablanca buildings crumbling in silence

UN says over 300 civilians killed since start of west Mosul offensive

Disputed Iraqi province votes to fly Kurdish flag

Germany laments Turkey's 'unacceptable' spying

Syria opposition says no peace deal without US role

Turkey sends delegation to UK over electronics ban

UN chief urges Arab leaders to confront Syria war

Carlos the Jackal sentenced to life for Paris bombing

Arab League set to oppose Trump Israel embassy shift

US vows to never allow 'Israel-bashing' at UN

Netanyahu ban on MP visits to flashpoint holy site challenged

IS launches counter-attack to defend north Syria town

Saudi intercepts four ‘smuggled’ Yemen rebel missiles

Saudi to set up investment fund to help Jordan

Iran slams Bahrain terror cell claims as ‘delusional’

UN says 30 million unsure of next meal in MENA region

Putin to meet Iran President in Moscow

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

Germany’s Turks cast early ballots for Erdogan referendum

German court convicts Pakistani of spying for Iran

Qatar to invest £5bn in UK within five years

'Kill Erdogan' banner probed in Switzerland, Turkey

Arab League chief urges resolution to Syria conflict

Israel arrests 22 ultra-Orthodox sex offenders

Syrian forces pause offensive on IS-held dam for repairs

Dubai's Emaar Malls offers $800m to buy Souq.com

Iraq launches fresh Mosul Old City advance

US-backed fighters battle IS near north Syria town

Hamas partially reopens Beit Hanoun crossing

Iraq investigates Mosul civilian deaths

In Algeria, everyone wants to be MP, few likely to vote

Yemeni rebel supporters flood streets on conflict’s anniversary

Syria fighting damages IS-held dam posing rising water risk

Iran to symbolically sanction 15 US companies

Iran to appeal seizure of 9/11 compensation money

Hamas shuts Gaza crossing after assassination of official

Deep concern as Israeli laws entrench the occupation

Turkey’s Kurds could sway tight referendum vote

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

US and allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Israel’s air strike on Syria spooks Middle East