Tunisia PM to resign if new cabinet rejected

Jebali vows to resign if his technocratic cabinet offer is denied as thousands of ruling party supporters mass in Tunis.

Hamdi Jebali, the Tunisian prime minister, has threatened to resign unless his Ennahda party and other parties accept his proposals for an interim government of technocrats.

Jebali, who is in dispute with his party over his proposal for a new government, said on Saturday he would present his new cabinet “by the middle of next week by the latest,” the official TAP news agency reported.

“I am convinced this is the best solution for the current situation in Tunisia

– Hamdi Jebali, Tunisian PM

If the team was accepted by parties represented in the country’s constituent assembly without being put to a vote he would remain on as prime minister, Jebali said. Otherwise, he said, he would resign.

Jebali first made the announcement on Wednesday, hours after the assassination of opposition leader Shokri Belaid outside his home by an unknown assailant.

Ennahda rejected that idea soon afterward. Jebali said on Friday that he was confident he could gain his party’s support. It remains unclear how he plans to pull enough support to his side.

“I am convinced this is the best solution for the current situation in Tunisia,” Jebali said late on Friday.

Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Tunis, said: “Since its emergence as the biggest political party after the elections of 2011, Ennahda has said they would like to pick up on that legitimate backing they have of the people.”

“They think that a transitional period is very crucial, when they have to draft a new constitution, agree on the political establishment and set a final date for the elections. To do that, you have to have a very strong government,” Ahelbarra said.

“So will the prime minister convince Ennahda to back his proposal? It’s going to be extremely difficult for him to do that. If Ennahda refuses his offer, Tunisia will just plunge into further uncertainty.”

Pro-ruling party rallies

Thousands of supporters of Ennahda party demonstrated in the capital on Saturday, a day after the funeral of the assassinated opposition leader.

The demonstrators chanted “The people still want Ennahda” and “The revolution continues” as they marched along the central Avenue Bourguiba on Saturday.

 Unions say government led by the Ennahda party is to blame for the killing, an accusation it denies [AFP]

Some of the protesters shouted anti-French slogans. The government has accused France of meddling over critical comments by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who denounced the killing as an attack on “the values of Tunisia’s Jasmine revolution”.

“France get out!” and “The people want to protect the legitimacy” of the government were among slogans chanted by Ennahda party supporters who numbered more than 3,000, AFP journalists estimated.

“Enough, France! Tunisia will never again be a French colony,” proclaimed some of banners waved by protesters.

The pro-Ennahda demonstration took place on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, epicentre of the 2011 revolution that toppled ex-dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, close to the French embassy.

The ruling party had called supporters to gather in central Tunis to show support for the constitutional assembly, whose work on a new constitution suffered a severe setback when leftist parties withdrew their participation following the killing of Belaid earlier this week.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies