Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tunisia Holds Cross-Party Negotiations

Tunisia holds cross-party negotiations

Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:28AM GMT

Tunisia has held cross-party negotiations to find a political solution following waves of recent protests across the North African country.

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali on Saturday held cross-party talks at the Carthage Palace in Tunis after the recent protests led to the dissolution of the government.

Jebali has urged all parties to show patience and not to inflame the situation further. He has consulted with some party leaders after he agreed to a government of technocrats.

The premier had earlier promised to announce the new government of technocrats Saturday. But that has now been canceled and rescheduled for Monday.

Jebali says he will resign if the new cabinet is rejected by the National Constituent Assembly.

Last week's assassination of an opposition leader plunged Tunisia into its worst crisis since the 2011 revolution.

Leftist opposition leader Shokri Belaid was fatally shot outside his home in the capital Tunis on February 6.

Belaid's assassination triggered violent demonstrations across the country, with the headquarters of the ruling Ennahda party being attacked in more than a dozen cities.

Opposition groups have accused Ennahda of being behind the assassination. However, the party’s leader Rashid al-Ghannushi condemned the act and rejected the allegations.

Following the explosion of public anger over the murder, Hamadi Jebali said in a televised address that he would dissolve the cabinet and form a new government of technocrats.

The incident also raised fears of violence in a country where the government faces strong liberal and secular opposition.

In January 2011, the country’s Western-backed dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled Tunisia to Saudi Arabia, after weeks of bloody protests over corruption, unemployment, and high food prices.

Tunisia's first freely elected government was sworn in December 2011, a year after the start of a popular uprising that ended the 23-year authoritarian rule of Ben Ali.

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