Tunisia’s prime minister has announced he will continue to oppose his own political party and seek to form a government of technocrats by Saturday to solve the country’s crisis or resign.
Hamadi Jebali said on Thursday he will hold talks with representatives of all political parties on Friday to see if there is sufficient support for his solution to end the crisis exacerbated by a political assassination last week.
He will announce the results of the meeting on Saturday.
Jebali’s initiative, while supported by the opposition, puts him on a collision course with the Ennahda Party, which dominates the government and insists on sticking with a cabinet of political figures.
The two competing visions for how to resolve the country’s political deadlock are even more striking because Jebali is the secretary general of the Ennahda, revealing differences within the party itself.
In the midst of an ongoing tussle between the governing coalition and the opposition, leftist politician Chokri Belaid was shot four times through the window of his car outside his home on February 6, setting off anti-government riots around the country.
Hundreds of thousands showed up at his funeral and the Ennahda-led administration was widely blamed for creating the violent environment that resulted in his death – as well as not solving persistent economic problems.
In response, Jebali called for a government of technocrats to end the transitional period by speeding up the writing of the new constitution and holding long-awaited new elections. His initiative has been warmly welcomed by civil society and the opposition.
Ennahda, meanwhile, has seen its support shrink with one coalition partner, the left-wing Ettakatol Party, supporting Jebali, leaving it just with the Congress party and a few other small groups.
On Wednesday, Ennahda issued a statement maintaining that the crisis could only be solved with a “national political coalition that is open to both partisan and independent figures.”