[QODLink]
Africa

Tunisia picks new PM ahead of polls

Ruling Ennahdha party and opposition say Industry Minister Mehdi Jomaa will lead a caretaker cabinet into 2014 election.

Last updated: 15 Dec 2013 03:08
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Tunisia's ruling Islamist party and its opponents have named Industry Minister Mehdi Jomaa as prime minister in a caretaker technocrat cabinet to govern until elections next year, said the powerful UGTT union, which has been acting as mediator.

The announcement on Saturday is part of an agreement that will see the ruling party, Ennahdha, hand over power in the next few weeks as a way to end a crisis that threatened Tunisia's transition to full democracy after its "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011.

Under a previous accord brokered by the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), Ennahdha had agreed to resign once the sides decided on a caretaker cabinet, finished a new constitution and set a date for elections.

Houcine Abassi, UGTT secretary-general, said Jomaa was picked following discussions which led to a vote.

"Our people have waited for a long time, but despite the difficulties and obstacles... this dialogue has not failed," he said.

Al Jazeera's Youssef Gaigi, reporting from Tunis, said Jomaa emerged as a consensus candidate.

"He is independent, he is not affiliated with any political party, and he has been in the government for a few months now," Gaigi said.     

Tunisia, whose strong secular tradition has collided with the political power of the moderate Islamist Ennahdha, has kept strong ties with former colonial ruler France, and relies heavily on European tourism.

Its political landscape is dominated by two men who say elections are the best way forward: Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi and Beji Caid Essebsi, a former Ben Ali-era official who now leads the main secular opposition party, Nida Tounes.

Islam's role

But the protracted political crisis has hurt the economy and prospects of generating prosperity in the nation where a street vendor set himself on fire nearly three years ago in a gesture of despair that ignited a flame of revolt across the Arab world.

In the two years since Ennahdha gained office after Tunisia's first free elections, political dissent has centred on how the role of Islam should be formulated in the new constitution.

The debate has unfolded against a backdrop of attacks, some linked to al-Qaeda, who have exploited the chaos in nearby Libya to gain weapons and training. Two secular opposition leaders have been assassinated this year.

375

Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
join our mailing list