11 February 2013

Tunisian President's Party Remains in Government

The party of Tunisia's interim President, Moncef Marzouki, yesterday, February 11, 2013 announced it was reversing its decision to withdraw from the coalition government while talks continue on a political crisis worsened by the killing of an opposition politician.

Mohamed Abbou, Secretary General of the secular Congress for the Republic, CPR, told a news conference that the party that decided last weekend to pull out of the government would stay on for a week. The CPR is one of two junior non-Islamist partners in a coalition dominated by the Islamist Ennahda party.

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali announced after the assassination on February 6, 2013 of leftist politician, Chokri Belaïd, that he would form a non-partisan government of technocrats to run the country until elections can be held later in the year. Senior politicians in Ennahda and its coalition partners criticised Jebali for failing to consult them first. Also yesterday, Jebali warned that he would resign if his Islamist Ennahda party kept opposing his plans for a cabinet shake-up, Al Arabiya newspaper reported.

His Ennahda political party, however, warned that it would take to the streets to support the party's right to govern in the country following its sweeping victory in October 2011 election. Jebali also said that although he could resign from the position of Prime Minister, he did not intend to quit the post of Ennahda's Secretary General.

The Premier added that the murder of Belaïd was aimed at destabilising the situation in the country and divide people. He said the bullets that were fired at Chokri Belaïd were aimed at the Tunisian Revolution. Belaïd's family accused the Ennahda party of responsibility for his assassination.

Several hundred opposition supporters, including leftist politician, Chokri Belaïd's wife, Besma, continued protesting outside the Constituent Assembly in Tunis yesterday, calling on Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and his cabinet to step down, BBC reported. The Islamist party has denied any complicity in the killing. Belaïd's killing - Tunisia's first such political assassination in decades - has thrown the government and the country into turmoil, widening rifts between the dominant Islamist Ennahda party and its secular-minded foes.

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