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Ennahda lays out new Tunisia government terms

Ruling Islamists agree to formation of government of independents once consensus reached on constitution and poll dates.

Last Modified: 26 Aug 2013 20:24
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The opposition wants the formation of a non-partisan administration [AP]

Tunisia's ruling Islamist party Ennahda has detailed proposals to end weeks of political crisis, saying they will accept a technocrat government once consensus on the constitution and an election timetable are agreed.

"When agreement has been reached on the constitution, the electoral law, the body charged with overseeing elections and the three dates of the presidential ... and legislative elections, then a government of independents could be formed," senior Ennahda official Ameur Larayedh told Tunisian radio station Mosaique FM, on Monday.

Umbrella opposition group the National Salvation Front (NSF) has repeatedly demanded the resignation of the Islamist-led government and the formation of a non-partisan administration, before negotiating on the constitution and timing of fresh elections.

The opposition accuses Ennahda of failing to rein in Tunisia's hardline Salafist movement, who are blamed for murdering MP Mohammed Brahimi in July and Chokri Belaid, another prominent secular politician whose assassination in February brought down the first Islamist-led coalition.

Ennahda has also been accused of failing to restart the economy and to improve living standards.

The Islamists, who originally rejected calls for the dissolution of the current government, indicated last week for the first time since the start of the crisis that they would accept in principle the resignation of the cabinet led by Prime Minister Ali Larayedh.

But they stressed the need first to resolve all major political differences, including over the new constitution, whose drafting has been blocked by disagreement in the national assembly.

On Saturday, the NSF launched what it called the "week of departure," a week-long campaign of protests to bring down the government, starting with a mass rally outside the assembly.

The protest brought together about 10,000 protesters according to police estimates, far fewer than the 100,000 who crowded the same square early this month.

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