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Tunisian party threatens to quit government

Tunisian president's secular party threatens to withdraw from government unless two Ennahda ministers are replaced.
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2013 16:04
Ennahda party won 42 percent of the seats in the elections, but formed a coalition with two secular parties [Reuters]

The Tunisian president's secular party has threatened to withdraw from the Islamic-led government unless it drops two religiously-conservative ministers.

The Islamic Ennahda party won 42 percent of seats in the country's first post-Arab Spring elections in October 2011 but formed a government in coalition with two secular parties, President Moncef Marzouki's Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol.

Coalition discussions on a cabinet reshuffle have broken down after Congress for the Republic asked for the replacement of Foreign Affairs Minister Rafik Abdessalem, who is son-in-law of Ennahda head Rached Gannouchi, and Justice Minister Nouridine Bhiri, saying their performances had been weak.

"If Ennahda does not change its foreign and justice ministers within a week, the Congress for the Republic will withdraw its ministers from the government and President Marzouki may resign from his post,"Mohammed Abbou, secretary-general of Congress for Republic, said on Sunday.

Tunisia, the first Arab country to oust its leader and hold free elections as uprisings spread around the region two years ago, has so far made a relatively smooth transition to democracy, but analysts say a secular-Islamist rift in the coalition could disrupt that process.

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