Tunisia parties reach political agreement

Ruling Islamist and opposition parties reach deal to name new prime minister, opening path to end crisis.

Protests have been demanding the downfall of the Ennahda-led government [Reuters]

Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party and opposition parties have reached a deal to name a new prime minister, who will lead a caretaker administration until elections aimed at ending months of crisis.

The deal on a new premier, announced on Thursday, clears the way for the current government to step down later this month and end turmoil that has threatened to upset Tunisia’s transition to full democracy three years after its “Arab Spring” uprising.

Under a previous accord brokered by the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), moderate Islamist party Ennahda has agreed to resign once the sides decide on a caretaker cabinet, finish a new constitution and set a date for elections.

Hussein Abbassi, the head of the UGTT, confirmed the deal had been reached after weeks of negotiations, saying that it would be publically presented on Friday.

Transition to democracy

Political leaders did not give any further details, but former finance ministers and central bankers have topped the list of potential candidates for the post leading a technocrat, non-political cabinet meant to end months of deadlock.

The Tunisia Times reported that Abbassi had said he would announce the name of the new prime minister on December 14.

Nearly three years after a despairing Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire, triggering a revolt that ousted autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia is close to another step towards its transition to full democracy.

There have been months of wrangling with political parties split over the role of Islam in Tunisia, the country’s economy is faltering and armed Islamist groups have carried out a series of attacks.

Worries from Tunisia’s international lenders about the country’s deficit and the assassinations of two opposition leaders by Islamist fighters earlier this year have increased pressure to reach an accord.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters