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Politics

Tunisia fails to create technocrat interim government

Tunisia’s prime minister has failed to establish an interim government, leaving the country’s political crisis unresolved. The North African nation has been thrown into turmoil by the assassination of a secular leader.

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali failed on Monday to convince his own leading Islamist Ennahda political party to support his proposal for a non-partisan government, revealing deep divisions within the governing party.

"I say in all clarity that the initiative I presented - that is to say, a government composed of members not belonging to any political parties - failed to reach a consensus," Jebali said after the talks. However he added that, "another form of government" was still a possibility.

Jebali said he would next meet with President Moncef Marzouki on Tuesday to establish a new plan that he said should emerge “in the coming days.”

However, Jebali did not say whether he would resign as he had previously threatened in the event his proposal failed.

Tunisia was thrown into political crisis after the assassination of the secular, left-wing opposition figure Chokri Belaid on February 6. Belaid was shot dead outside of his home by unidentified gunmen. The assassination sparked massive protests by opposition groups, who accused the Islamist Ennadha party of complicity in the murder.

In an effort to stem broader unrest, Prime Minister Jebali had proposed establishing a non-partisan government led by technocrats until new elections are held.

On Monday, the party's review council said a technocratic government did "not meet the needs of the present time" and called for a mix of politicians and technocrats instead.

The opposition, however, largely approved Jebali's proposal.

Belaid's killing created the worst crisis in Tunisia since the uprising that forced strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power in January 2011.

hc/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)