13 February 2013

Tunisia: Political Crisis Continues

Photo: Tunis Afrique Presse
Former Tunisian Prime Minister, Hamadi Jebali.

Tunis — Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali struggles to convince the ruling troika of the need to form a government of non-partisan technocrats to help Tunisia overcome its political crisis.

Tunisia is still waiting for its new government, although Ennahda on Tuesday (February 12th) said it would accept the formation of a government composed of technocrats and political figures, AFP reported.

Radical members of the Ennahda Movement, however, continued to reject the idea of forming an apolitical government.

If Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali cannot convince his party to make concessions, Ennahda could lose the reins of power, fourteen months after it came to office.

"The country needs a political consensus and it is not in the interest of Tunisia, especially after the assassination of Chokri Belaid, to give up the culture of coalition," Ennahda's Shura Council chief Fethi Ayedi explained.

Jebali consulted with union activists, secular political parties, business leaders, and civil society members over the last few days in an attempt to find a solution to the political crisis.

On Tuesday, he unveiled a "council of wise men", made up of thinkers, magistrates, Ennahda moderates and General Rachid Ammar.

In another sign of progress, Congress for the Republic (CPR) froze its decision to withdraw its ministers from the government, after threatening to quit.

CPR Secretary-General Mohamed Abbou explained that his party had opposed Jebali's plan because there could be "faces from the former regime in the proposed government of technocrats".

"The interests of the country require the formation of a government of national coalition and the change of some ministers whose performance was characterised by weakness," Abbou stated.

Ettakatol, the third party in the governing coalition, supported Jebali's initiative. "Ettakatol party is not opposed to the formation of a government of technocrats independent from the parties, in accordance with the initiative announced by Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali," said party spokesperson Mohamed Bennour.

Constitutional law professor Kais Saied had his own take on the issue.

The plan, he argued, "is not about forming a new government; it is instead about reshuffling the existing cabinet", the professor said.

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