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.

 

Yemen warring parties 'closer' to agreement

Major assaults target IS jihadists in Iraq, Syria

Netanyahu forms ultra-nationalist Israel government

New Afghan Taliban leader named

Female Emirati pilot issues rallying cry to young women

Sudan accuses UN official of 'false' reports on displaced

Egypt quashes prison sentences for 47 protesters

At least 5 drown off Libya coast

Coalition airstrike kills six Yemen civilians 'by mistake'

Erdogan chairs first meeting of new Turkey cabinet

Pope prays to 'convert hearts' of ISIS extremists

Egypt expels French journalist amid crackdown on media

Israeli rights group gives up on army complaints system

Hamas-led council backs executions without Abbas approval

Syrian base used by Russia damaged in IS attack

Kurdish, Arab forces announce anti-IS offensive north of Syria's Raqa

Palestinian PM dismisses Netanyahu proposal

Israel PM's travel expenses under scrutiny

EgyptAir victims' relatives give samples for DNA tests

Iran sends new delegation to Saudi for hajj talks

Hardline cleric elected head of Iran's Assembly of Experts

Civilians trapped as Fallujah siege tightens

Iraq's Fallujah offensive draws attention from embattled PM

Turkey incoming PM unveils cabinet

US, Russia scramble to save Syria truce

Libyan coastguards intercept 550 bound for Europe

Campus bomb kills two in Yemen's Sanaa

Saudi soldier killed in landmine blast on Yemen border

Over 148 killed in IS bombings in Syria regime heartland

Iraq forces battle IS jihadists to retake Fallujah

Erdogan advisor says Turkey could suspend EU deals

Iraq launches military operation to retake Fallujah

Oil prices dip as Iran says no to output freeze

Skepticism ahead of Istanbul humanitarian summit

Sudan steps up pressure for exit of Darfur peacekeepers

UN Palestinian agency says half its schools hit by conflict

Bombs kill more than 120 in Syria regime strongholds

Netanyahu rejects French peace initiative

Gunmen kill 8 worshipers in Darfur

India in deal to turn Iran port into trade hub

Turkey's incoming PM working on new cabinet

Israel lifts ban on Gaza cement deliveries

Yemen warring parties meet after long pause

Egypt enlists submersible to search for EgyptAir crash clues

Tunisia's Ennahda reelects Ghannouchi as party chief